Ohio narcotics facility uses new technology to stop drug dealers
WEST CHESTER, Ohio — Area law enforcement is seeing tools change the way they investigate drug cases and help overdose survivors around Cincinnati.
Intelligence analysts from the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center caught an inmate selling drugs into Ohio from California. Yet ONIC’s dark web and cryptocurrency-savvy teams, armed with an array of high-tech tools, expect much more.
“You’re going to see a shift in law enforcement to get into these more high-tech cybercrimes, because there’s a shift in your traditional drug dealers working in a corner or working in a trap house,” he said. said Xavier Diaz, an ONIC intelligence analyst. . “It’s so much easier to go to the dark web using your personal computer.”
Diaz and his colleagues know how to see through fake profiles and private networks to identify suspects trying to illegally sell narcotics anonymously. The team of nine state employees and two members of the Ohio National Guard also have tools to open locked cell phones. Diaz showed WCPO 9 News how intelligence teams preserve and retrieve text messages, photos, videos, and map data from mobile devices in special signal-blocking Faraday boxes that prevent anyone from erasing anything inside. distance.
“It gives us another tool to find evidence to hold drug dealers accountable,” said Tom Fallon, who leads the Hamilton County Rapid Response Team as part of the Addiction Response Coalition. County.
Police in West Chester, Sharonville, Cincinnati, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and a dozen others believe the center could revive stalled investigations where detectives need help linking suspects to physical evidence. Smaller agencies don’t have the money to afford ONIC’s technology, Gov. Mike DeWine said. Larger agencies are struggling to find enough manpower to cover an increasing number of narcotics investigations that require intelligence analysis.
ONIC intelligence analyst Kara Robb helped authorities secure a 50-year prison sentence for a suspected drug trafficker in Perry County.
“(In texts) he explained where he had the drugs, where he was going, who he was meeting with,” Robb said. “He also indicated at what price he sold the drugs and the levels of drugs he sold.”
Funded by the state, ONIC resources are free and open to any law enforcement agency. This invites more information and shared leads across departments, DeWine said. It also allows detectives to identify common suspects and better see statewide trafficking trends, such as purple meth currently being sold illegally throughout Ohio.
“When we identify a source of supply who might be able to connect with one of my buddies from Warren County, let them (work) on an overdose death (investigation),” Fallon said. “So that’s really going to improve data sharing, which is going to be really good.”
It may take time, but every police chief who has visited the center said they were sure the impact would be huge.
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