The Ohio State Highway Patrol is making more drug-related arrests and seizures this year than last year as the state’s major highways — including Interstates 70 and 75 — remain big conduits of drug trafficking.
During the first six months of 2013, the patrol started 2,685 felony cases, with 46 percent stemming from a felony drug charge, according to statistics the patrol released this week.
Troopers made 4,728 drug arrests January through June, an 18 percent increase from the first half of 2012, the patrol said. That’s also a rise of 42 percent compared to the average number of arrests from 2010 through 2012.
During the first half of this year, seizures of prescription pill stimulants rose 101 percent and seizures of depressants climbed 87 percent over the three-year average, the patrol said. Seizures of hallucinogens were up 77 percent compared with the previous three-year average, the patrol said.
The number of marijuana, cocaine, crack and heroin arrests have increased substantially, the patrol said. The total number of heroin cases rose 100 percent during the first half of this year compared with the 2010-2012 average.
The jump in arrests and seizures are due to greater trafficking of drugs across the Buckeye State and stronger attempts to stop it. “It’s all of the above,” Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston said.
Ohio seems to be a traffic magnet, with well traveled north-south arteries such as I-75 and 71, and east-west arteries like I-70 and I-80, Ralston said.
“We know that they (dealers) use our roads to traffic large amounts of narcotics,” Ralston said.
During the first half of this year, the patrol initiated 39 felony drug cases in Montgomery County, seven in Greene County, five in Miami County, 11 in Clark County, none in Champaign County, 29 in Butler County and 26 in Warren County. Franklin County led the state with 99 felony drug cases.
But the drugs aren’t just being transported through Ohio, said Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer. They’re being delivered to Ohio cities like Dayton, he said.
“We’ve got a huge heroin problem right now,” Plummer said.
There are more users; drug-addicted prostitutes are getting younger; heroin is cheaper; and the problem is in the suburbs, the sheriff said.
And it’s not just heroin. Other drugs are in high demand. For example, the Montgomery County RANGE drug task force seized 100 pounds of pot at a Dayton home Thursday, the task force said Thursday. Among those taken into custody was a 13-year-old girl.
Plummer said his office is in talks with the patrol on sharing information and perhaps having the patrol be a part of the RANGE task force.
“There’s definitely a team effort in this war on drug trafficking,” Ralston said.
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