State and local police are chipping away at the heroin epidemic in Lorain County, busting 31 members of what they're calling, an organized drug gang.
They say it’s just the beginning.
“Operation Exodus” is a coordinated and concentrated effort including the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department as well as Elyria and Lorain Police Departments.
Thursday night, the people who live in the midst of the epidemic in Lorain had the ears of a panel of police officers one-on-one at the New Creation Baptist Church.
"This is a plague. A scourge upon us all. They aren't drug dealers. They are death dealers," said Lorain City Councilwoman Mary Springowski.
It was frustration even on the heels of 31 arrests related to dealing and possessing heroin and cocaine in Lorain County.
It’s just a step in the right direction, says Lorain Police Captain Roger Watkins.
"Seems like you are trying to hold back the tide at times but you don't give up," said Watkins.
“That is a tremendous epidemic in our neighborhoods, in our wards. I just had someone pass away from an overdose 2 days ago," said Lorain Councilman Angel Arroyo.
Springowski added, "Not only do you have the drug dealers, you have the crime that goes along with the drug dealers. The muggings, the armed robberies, the murders, the house break ins, it all grows exponentially upon itself."
New Creation Baptist Church Pastor Marilyn Parker Jeffires has her finger on the pulse of the people in her church and in Lorain.
She hosted Thursday’s chance for concerned people who live among it all to talk to cops up close and personal.
For her it's also about the lack of local inpatient treatment facilities.
"Let's start working on the demand end as well. As we are working so hard to clean the streets, let’s work on people not needing those drugs anymore. Let's get people well. Let's get people whole," said Jeffries.
The 31 arrests in Operation Exodus, police say, is part of an even larger-scale ongoing investigation. These individuals, they say, are responsible for a vast majority of complaints that came into the Elyria Police Department.
"Neighborhoods are refusing to take it. Police are refusing to take it and now we are pushing for the men and women in our communities who are pushing this garbage in our communities not only to be prosecuted but charged with murder," said Arroyo.
Police say expect even more arrests on the way in Lorain County, as Operation Exodus continues.