Sheriff: Drug dealers lured to university populations

Suzi Starheim

Recent busts don’t necessarily mean KSU is drug-laden

Three recent drug arrests on campus raise the question: How common are drugs around here?

They’re not as frequent as you’d think, says Portage County Sheriff David Doak. He said the Portage County Drug Task Force just goes wherever drug activity is greatest.

“Dealers don’t think about penalties,” he said. “They just go wherever they can, and, where you have large numbers of people, business becomes lucrative, and they make sales. They go wherever the sale is made.”

The task force arrested Teon L. Stallworth, 22, of Akron on Oct. 13 for selling ecstasy inside the Student Center. Then they arrested James Anderson, 21, of Streetsboro and Melissa Botts, 20, of Hudson on Nov. 2 at Hilltop Drive, after a month-long undercover heroin investigation.

Then yesterday the task force arrested Daysha M. Lewis Sr., 20, of Akron with complicity to trafficking and heroin, John A. Reed, 22, of Akron for complicity to trafficking and heroin and Michaelas F. King, 30, of Peninsula for trafficking and heroin, possession of criminal tools and possession of OxyContin.

Doak said universities are often hot spots for dealers because of the number of people in one area.

“We don’t pick our targets; we go where the drug dealers are,” Doak said. “Universities are often a target-rich environment because the general numbers of people there. There are other places throughout the county that we have more drug activity.”

Christopher Jenkins, lieutenant of investigations at the Kent State Police Department, said the recent drug busts on campus have been completely in the hands of the task force.

“We are notified of the operations going on, but we have very limited information, and we respect that confidentiality,” Jenkins said. “They work in a world where information has a very different level of confidentiality.”

The recent drug arrests on campus resulted from the task force’s undercover operations.

While the university police didn’t receive much information on the undercover operations, Jenkins said they have full confidence in the abilities of the task force.

“(The drug task force is) just as concerned with the safety on campus as we are, and that’s why we are notified of the operations,” Jenkins said. “There is a good level of cooperation between the drug task force and our agency.”

Doak said while he can’t speak specifically about undercover operations for safety reasons, tips are crucial to getting any operation working.

“We are in the information business, and most crimes are solved because of information being passed on,” Doak said. “We are constantly looking at various ways to obtain information, and then we disperse that to where it needs to go throughout the agency.”

Tips usually come in by phone, e-mail and in-person, Doak said. They can be anonymous if the person giving the tip wants it that way.

“If you become a witness and we pursue the case, we are ethically able to keep their identity anonymous until they are needed for a case that goes to open court,” Doak said. “We do try to keep information that we get and people anonymous if we can because we are looking down the road, and sometimes people that give us information are very innocent.”

Contact safety reporter Suzi Starheim at [email protected].