Authorities raid alleged crack house

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 5, 2003

Two people are in jail after a multi-agency raid on an alleged crack house in Ironton late Thursday evening.

Authorities said citizens who were angry about drug activity in their neighborhood provided vital information that helped nab the pair. The manager of the apartment building where the arrests occurred said this is a show of strength among residents there that they will not allow drug dealers to live near them.

Deanna Michelle Lewis Saxton, 29, of 1505 Lawrence St., Apt. D-7, was charged with permitting drug abuse at her residence, fifth-degree felony possession of drugs and a misdemeanor count of possession of drugs.

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Jerome M. McGhee, 24, who also lists his address as 1505 Lawrence Street, Apt. D-7, was charged with first-degree felony trafficking in drugs, third-degree felony trafficking in drugs, fifth-degree felony possession of criminal tools and three misdemeanor counts of possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia. Because McGhee is a convicted felon, he was also charged with having a weapon under a disability.

Both taken to the Lawrence County Jail and are scheduled to be arraigned in Ironton Municipal Court Monday.

The arrests were a joint effort by Ironton Police officers, Lawrence County Sheriff's deputies, agents with the Lawrence County Drug Task Force and the Lawrence County Prosecutor's Office.

"We confiscated a substantial amount of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, marijuana, and schedule 3 and 4 pills (Loracet and Zanax), as well as a quantity of cash and items commonly used in the preparation of and distribution of illegal substances," said Ironton Police detective, Capt. Chris Bowman.

Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton noted that a handgun was also confiscated in the drug raid.

"It seems like every time we make an arrest (for drugs) now, we recover a weapon," Sexton said. "It would be nice if we didn't have this in our community."

Lawrence County Drug Task Force agent David Marcum said Saxton's arrest was another indication that local authorities are serious about apprehending those who allow illegal drug activities in their homes.

"People in the community who allow their residence to be used in this way should know this is what they could face," Marcum said.

Bowman said children live at that residence, and authorities used the information obtained during the investigation to conduct the raid at a time when the children were not present, to safeguard them from harm.

Dan Palmer, manager of the Storms Creek Apartments where the arrests occurred, said he cooperated fully with local authorities. Palmer said he hopes these arrests send a clear signal to the community that the rest of the residents at Storms Creek will stand together to protect their neighborhood.

"This kind of thing will not, absolutely will not, be tolerated at Storms Creek Apartments," Palmer said. "Tenants are made aware of this when they sign a lease with me. I applaud the efforts of all of those involved in this (drug raid). I want to send a message that drug dealers are not welcome here. They need not apply at Storms Creek Apartments."

Palmer said new tenants must now bring a city police report and a Lawrence County Sheriff's Office report with them when they apply for an apartment at Storms Creek. In addition, he conducts a FABCO check on each new tenant. This report contains credit information as well as information on criminal offenses anywhere in the state of Ohio.

"My goal is to make Storms Creek a safe place for families to live.," he said. "We have a beautiful complex here. We don't want to have a place where people live in fear. We want a place where kids can play and families want to live. That is my goal and I am committed to it."

The sheriff encouraged people to continue calling the task force's drug hotline.

"If we have one person dealing drugs in our community, then there is a problem," Sexton said. "We are looking at it and we are trying to do something about it. We will continue our efforts and we want people to continue to call us."

The drug hotline number is 533-5511.