Chief: Majority of drug raid arrestees from Cleveland

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON MEMBERS OF the Martins Ferry Police Department gather after recent ALICE training at the high school. From left are Joe Perry, Shamus Nixon, Steve Veltri, Vern Trigg, Rob Duncan, John Holmes and Brad Mackey.

MARTINS FERRY — During the last few years, the majority of those arrested in drug raids in Belmont County originally hailed from the Cleveland area, Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland said.

Following a recent drug raid at a Martins Ferry rental property, McFarland said he wanted landlords to be more careful of the people they rent to and to do background checks on prospective tenants. The police department, he said, is even willing to help.

“I want to encourage people who have rental properties, if you don’t want the police department busting your door in and breaking your windows, check with the police before renting them out. If a Cleveland address comes up, more than likely they are coming here to sell drugs,” he said.

McFarland said landlords can call the department at 740-633-2121 about a prospective tenant’s information and the department can check for warrants and other information.

“I don’t want people in Martins Ferry selling drugs. I don’t want people anywhere selling drugs,” he said.

McFarland said looking back at the last three to four years’ arrests, 80 percent to 85 percent of the drug dealers involved originally came from Cleveland. Local law enforcement officers for many years have complained about drugs being funneled from bigger cities, such as Chicago and Cleveland, into the Ohio Valley.

The valley’s proximity to many major cities and the fact that several major highways run through the region it make it an easy target and allow dealers easy access the smaller communities, authorities have said.

Regarding the April 11 arrests in the city, McFarland said the man and woman, Derrick Deon Leflore and Janielle Chantone Jernique Cunningham, respectively, originally hailed from Cleveland but were renting a house at 1517 N. Eighth St., Martins Ferry.

Leflore’s charges included felony possession of cocaine and endangering a child. Cunningham’s charges included complicity in drugs and endangering a child. During the raid, police with the Belmont County Drug Task Force seized 20 grams of crack cocaine and about $3,000 from the home. McFarland noted additional charges still may be filed against the duo.