Ohioans certainly cannot arrest their way out of the illegal drug epidemic, as Attorney General Mike DeWine has pointed out. But authorities in Monroe County are giving it a heck of a shot.
Thirty people were arrested late last month after a Monroe County grand jury returned more than 100 drug-related charges against them. Sheriff Charles Black revealed the arrests were the result of an investigation that began last May.
One striking aspect of the sweep is that every one of the 30 men and women arrested lives in or very near Monroe County. Not one of them is among the out-of-town drug dealers, many from Chicago, Cleveland or Columbus, who are a plague on East Ohio.
Members of the Monroe County Major Crimes Task Force, who made the arrests, know the implications of that far better than we do. But one thing is clear: The drug epidemic has plenty of local "kingpins," without whom the out-of-towners would have no distribution network.
The number of arrests also reinforces the pervasive nature of the epidemic. Monroe is not a large county. In one big sweep, the authorities have charged approximately one of every 500 county residents with drug trafficking. A moment's reflection on the number of dealers not yet apprehended and the volume of their customer base is not pleasant.
DeWine is correct that curbing the illegal drug epidemic requires a multi-pronged approach. Treatment of addicts and mobilized communities also are necessary.
But Monroe County authorities have taken a giant bite out of the drug distribution network. They are to be commended for their hard work, dedication and abilities.