Dozens of people suspected of purchasing excessive amounts of a key ingredient used to make methamphetamine were arrested early Wednesday morning in a series of raids across Ashtabula County.
Forty-three people were picked up at locations in every corner of the county, County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini said at a press conference in Jefferson. Five additional arrests were also made, and two more were arrested on outstanding — but unrelated — warrants, he said. In addition, meth labs were discovered in Andover, Orwell, Saybrook, Ashtabula and Conneaut, Sartini said.
Sixty-seven people were secretly indicted by the Ashtabula County grand jury on July 26, Sartini said. Authorities are confident they will locate many of the remaining 24 people, he said.
All of those arrested are accused of buying pseudoephedrine, used to make meth. They will be charged with the illegal assembly of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs and the manufacture of the drug “in Ashtabula and surrounding counties,” the press release states. Most of the charges are second- or third-degree felonies, which can result in prison time, Sartini said.
As arrests were made, the suspects were brought to Jefferson and arraigned before Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Yost. Most posted bond and were released. A few of those named in warrants were already in jail or prison for meth-related crimes, officials said.
Some 120 law enforcement and safety personnel from 21 agencies were involved in the raids, dubbed “Operation Meth Death,” which began at 6 a.m., after receiving assignments at the Spire Institute in Harpersfield Township. None of the people targeted in the raids resisted arrest and no officers were injured.