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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
July 31, 2003

Contact: DEA RAC Douglas Lamplugh (330) 740-7000
David Jacobson at (313) 234-4220

International Drug Investigation "Operation Trifecta" Has Warren, Ohio Connection

Acting SAC Gary W. Oetjen
Acting SAC Gary W. Oetjen and AUSA/OCDETF Coordinator for the USAO in Cleveland at the Press Conference in Warren, Ohio

July 31--Warren, Ohio- On July 31, 2003, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and Gary Oetjen, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Chief John Mandopoulos of the Warren, Ohio Police Department announced the culmination of "Operation Trifecta"in the Mahoning Valley Ohio area. "Operation Trifecta" was a three- year international narcotics investigation directed at the Ismael Zambada-Garcia Organization (ZGO), one of the largest and most powerful Mexican drug cartels operating in Mexico and the United States. The ZGO was responsible for the distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana distributed throughout the United States. The organization has also demonstrated its propensity to violence resulting in numerous drug- related homicides.

This investigation identified an organization "cell" operating in Warren, Ohio that was responsible for transferring large amounts of drug money from New York drug sales back to the Southwest border and orchestrating drug shipments from the Southwest border through Warren, Ohio en-route to the Buffalo, New York area. The organization transported cocaine and marijuana through Warren with portions of these shipments being provided to the distributors locally for sale in the Mahoning Valley area. During this investigation, over $1.5 million dollars was seized in addition to 443 kilograms of cocaine.

Assistant US Attorney Kenneth McHargh
Assistant US Attorney Kenneth McHargh

In the early morning hours of 7/31/03, Agents of the DEA Task Force executed three federal search warrants at the following locations and had federal arrest warrants for the residents:

  • 650 Rex Boulevard, NW, Warren, Ohio
    Arrest warrant for Dianna PALMER, w/f, 04-17-63
  • 326 Glendale Avenue, NW, Warren, Ohio
    Arrest warrant for James LEIGH JR., w/m, 07-31-67
  • 527 East Center Street, Warren, Ohio
    Arrest warrant for Bert REGHETTI, w/m, 09-10-63
"Although the significant members of narcotics organizations are not as visible to the public eye as a local resident who is operating a crack or marijuana house, they are responsible for more havoc and misery being placed upon communities because of their status and role within the organization," said Gary Oetjen, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Detroit Field Division which includes Ohio.

Enforcement actions by DEA Task Forces also took place in San Diego, CA and Tucson, AZ pursuant to this investigation.

Other Agencies involved in this investigation include:

  • Beaver Township Police Department
  • Salem Police Department
  • Youngstown Police Department
  • Poland Police Department
  • Boardman Township Police Department
  • Canfield Police Department
  • Ohio State Highway Patrol
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Champion Township
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives


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