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'Problem-solving unit' zeros in on drug dealers

Ashland police officers made their second major drug bust in as many months, and the agency says it's thanks to a new unit within the detective division.

Last Friday afternoon, detectives in the new "problem-solving unit" arrested Thomas Patrick Pulcini, 44, after a search yielded drugs, scales and packaging at his manufactured home located within walking distance from Walker Elementary School.

The new unit, active for about two months and based within the agency's Criminal Investigation Division, allows the agency to better focus on narcotics and fraud cases, according to Ashland Deputy Chief Warren Hensman.

The unit focuses on cases that previously had taken a back-burner, Hensman said, with a focus on anything that could be seen as an "ongoing problem." He wouldn't say how large the unit is, other than to emphasize plural "detectives."

“They can now pay closer attention to major crimes like fraud, forgery and narcotics,” Hensman said.

At Pulcini's home in the 1500 block of Siskiyou Boulevard, police found heroin, methamphetamine, prepackaged Xanax pills and psilocybin mushrooms, according to a document filed by Ashland police in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Pulcini remained lodged in the Jackson County Jail Thursday on $500,000 bail, jail records show.

During the search, police also arrested Christopher Brennan Nelson on a misdemeanor charge of felon in possession of a restricted weapon, failing to appear in court on previous charges of possessing heroin and third-degree theft, and for violating his probation on a prior marijuana-possession conviction. He remained lodged in jail Thursday without bail.

The problem-solving unit made its first major drug arrest Aug. 18, when neighbor complaints led to a search warrant at a suspected drug house in the first block of Morton Street near Ashland High School.

Paul Kwiatkowski, 66, was arrested on charges of manufacturing and delivering methamphetamine near a school, manufacturing and possessing methamphetamine, and misdemeanor counts of possessing and delivering Xanax. Kwiatkowski's son, Charles Paul Kwiatkowski, 36, was arrested for violating his parole on a prior robbery conviction.

In the past, Hensman said, detectives had prioritized person crimes over property crimes and drug cases. Ashland's Criminal Investigation Division isn't large enough for detectives to work "beats," and the division has "well over 100 cases" open right now.

"They have their hands full," Hensman said.

Hensman said addition of the unit doesn't change the department's relationship with partner agencies or Ashland's place in the multi-agency Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement task force, which arrested suspected drug dealers in Medford last week, jail and court records show.

Dulce Crystal Luviano of the 200 block of South Riverside Avenue was arrested Sept. 19 on felony counts of delivering and possessing heroin. Police found roughly a pound of heroin inside her purse, according to police. She has since been released from jail, and her next court appearance is set for Oct. 20.

Brandy Shamblin, 29, was arrested Sept. 21 on multiple felony drug manufacture and delivery charges after a search in the 1500 block of Bryant Street yielded 15 grams of meth, four bags of cocaine, 2 grams of heroin and more than 50 Xanax pills, along with packaging, scales and cash. She remained lodged in the jail Thursday on $500,000 bail. A preliminary hearing in her case was set for Friday.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.