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Police fight drugs by buying drugs

Jason Singer • Dec 19, 2010 at 11:01 AM

On a quiet Tuesday night in September 2008, Sandusky police burst through the front door at 905 Filmore St.

Inside, they saw a man and woman running through the kitchen in an attempt to escape out a back door.

In the living room, a mother and son quietly watched television.

Police tracked down the runners, arrested them and handed a search warrant to Jeffrey L. Payton, 38.

Officers searched the home and found two digital scales, guns, 67 grams of cocaine, 17 grams of crack-cocaine, 684 grams of marijuana and nearly $5,000 in cash.

Much of the arrest resulted from "controlled" buys, police said. Controlled buys are drug purchases involving police informants.

After the raid, prosecutors charged Payton with drug possession, illegal manufacturing of drugs and having weapons under disability.

As part of the same investigation, which stretched from April 2008 to early this year, Sandusky police also arrested Gregory Payton, 50, Dallas Payton, 23, and Frank Payton, 48.

Jeffrey is now serving more than 17 years in prison, Frank received a two-year sentence and Gregory got 18 months.

Nearly all of the charges involved either possession, trafficking or the illegal manufacturing of drugs.

Controlled buys

Sandusky Police Department's two-man narcotics team uses controlled buys in the majority of drug cases, officers said.

So far this year, they've made 96 controlled buys, police records show.

In small towns such as Sandusky, controlled buys work more effectively than undercover buys, in which an officer would purchase the drugs, Sandusky police Detective Eric Graybill said.

"I can't just walk anywhere and make a drug buy," Graybill said. "I look like a cop, sound like a cop, talk like a cop. So controlled buys give us an opportunity to do that."

In 90 percent of cases involving controlled buys, police use an informant who is looking to get criminal charges reduced. One way they can do that: Make a controlled buy.

During these buys, police monitor the transactions through technology.

They don't target one particular drug, but they shape the buys to whatever narcotic the informant has access to, said Detective John Orzech, who oversees the unit.

"We only ask people to do whatever they can do," Orzech said. "Who's their supplier? Who can they get drugs from? We don't direct people to a specific drug or specific person."

Officers spend about $25 to $50 on the majority of controlled buys, which gets a half-gram to a gram of most drugs, Orzech said.

The cost increases for more expensive drugs. An ounce of crack-cocaine, for instance, costs about $1,300.

The investigation into the Payton family began in April 2008, when a confidential informant wanted to clean up the neighborhood, police records show.

Officers said they used controlled buys in cases against all four family members.

Sandusky police don't release details about informants to protect their safety, officers said. 

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