CLEVELAND -- Authorities in Cleveland say they busted a wide-ranging heroin ring financed in part by drug dealers robbing each other.
What they called Operation Fox Hound is recorded as the single largest heroin takedown in our region, shutting down a supply of the deadly drug from Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and elsewhere straight into local neighborhoods.
The ring involved nearly 100 people, 60 of them indicted in federal court today and another 33 in Cuyahoga County.
A two-year investigation by local, state and federal agencies found these individuals were part of a multi-tiered system, buying, selling and stealing heroin across Cleveland, Euclid and many suburbs.
Part of their so-called game involved stealing drugs and money from each other.
This was a joint effort by the FBI, the US Attorney's office, Cuyahoga County , Cleveland and Euclid police.
While they didn't seize much in the way of drugs or guns, investigators say they believe shutting down what they call "one of the most significant criminal enterprises" will benefit everyone in the region.
Authorities say the mob like mentality of this drug ring meant they were known for terrorizing their neighborhoods, bringing violence and harm to those nearby.
A 191-page federal indictment says traffickers financed some operations by robbing drug dealers and users who had showy cars and jewelry.
According to the indictment, dealers conducted counter-surveillance of law-enforcement officers and posted sentries to look out for police.
The indictment says dealers kept track of court records for drug suspects facing trial and avoided doing business with them.
Now Cleveland police and federal agents are continuing to investigate the smaller crimes these suspects allegedly used to support their drug business.
Heroin already amounts to twice as many heroin deaths as shooting deaths in Cuyahoga County.
Prosecutor Tim McGinty says they expect to note a 200 percent increase in the number of fatalities from the drug this year.
The Associated Press