Family drug ring disbanded in Lawrence County raids, police say

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NEW CASTLE -- Ten arrest warrants were executed before dawn today, police said, disbanding a Lawrence County family ring believed to have sold between $3 million and $6 million in drugs -- mostly heroin -- since last year.

Nine adults and one juvenile, a 17-year-old, were arrested. All but one of those arrested have been formally arraigned, with bond amounts ranging from $100,000 and $250,000.

The ring, known as the "Schmidt Organization," was led by family patriarch Michael Schmidt, or "Big Mike" as he was known to his associates.

At its peak, District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa said, the group was dishing out a kilogram of heroin per week.

If the accused make bail, Mr. Lamancusa said, a source of funds petition will allow police to know precisely where the money originates. Such a petition hinders offenders' ability to pay with money obtained through illegal activities.

"Tens of thousands of dollars" in clothing and accessories were found in houses central to the operation. Four cars, three ATVs, three guns, $50,000 worth of jewelry and $40,000 worth of heroin were also seized.

Mr. Lamancusa said he hopes the bust will send both a message of warning and another of reassurance to community members.

For those still dealing, it's not a matter of "if," but "when we're coming," he said.


Michael Majchrowicz: or on Twitter @mjmajchrowicz

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