A week after District Attorney John Bongivengo took office, a 20-year-old begged him to put her in jail.

She claimed she couldn't make it through the weekend alive because of problems she had encountered in New Castle's drug world, Bongivengo said.

The girl told him she had smoked marijuana and taken three Xanax, just to muster up the nerve to go to his office and see him.

Bongivengo was one of 10 local, state and national law enforcement officials who gathered for a public forum Jan. 12 at New Castle High School to address the city's drug problem and the ongoing war against it.

The 90-minute event allowed for a brief question-and-answer period at the end, when three students got up to express their views. One stood up interrupting the closing remarks, and told a story about his brother dying because of his drug problems.

The program was presented to several hundred students with the motivational message that drug use is their decision and they should "just say no."

The event, which spanned two classroom periods, was coordinated by Mayor Wayne Alexander and members of the New Castle Police Department.

"I really don't like the Detroit Lions, Tigers or the Pistons, and those are the good things that come from Detroit," Bongivengo said.

"We've got the bad things from Detroit in New Castle," he said, referring to individuals who have moved into the city from Detroit to sell drugs here.

He declared he will not tolerate it as district attorney.

If they live in a rental house where drug problems are occurring, "we're going to take their house.

"If they use their cars for drugs, we're going to take their cars. We're taking everything they have."

He told the students that stopping the drug problem starts with the decisions they make.

"If there's a demand for drugs in Lawrence County, there's going to be a supply."

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