A Canadian man faces felony drug charges after Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers seized cocaine worth an estimated $2.8 million during a traffic stop near Springfield.
Troopers were alerted to a suspicious trailer on eastbound Interstate 70 around 2 a.m. Wednesday through an anonymous tip from a caller on the Patrol’s #677 tip line, said Lt. Anne Ralston, public affairs officer for the highway patrol.
A trooper from the Springfield post looked for the truck and stopped it for a marked lanes violation near mile marker 68. Ralston said the trooper noticed “something out of the ordinary” about the truck, and called a Springfield Police drug-sniffing dog to help.
“The canine walked around the vehicle and alerted to the vehicle and a probable cause search revealed the 32 kilos of cocaine in the sleeper area of the tractor trailer,” she said.
The driver, Suhksimrat Sing Pawar, 30, of Cambridge, Ontario, was incarcerated in the Clark County Jail and charged with possession of cocaine and trafficking in cocaine, both first-degree felonies. He pleaded not guilty in Clark County Municipal Court. He’s being held on $200,000 bond, according to court records.
Chris Kinsler, assistant Clark County prosecutor, said if Pawar posts bond he will have to wear a GPS monitoring device to ensure he returns for trial. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and up to a $40,000 fine.
Both the highway patrol and prosecutor’s office said this is the largest cocaine bust in recent memory.
“As seizures go, this is pretty enormous,” Kinsler said.
Ralston said successful use of the tip line helped troopers catch Pawar. It’s an important tool to combat drug trafficking, she said.
The cocaine has been sent to the patrol’s crime lab in Columbus for testing. It will be held there until there’s a trial and then be destroyed, Ralston said.
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