Five people were arrested and nearly 200 pounds of Texas marijuana were seized since Friday by by the Scioto County Sheriff's Office and lcal, state and federal agents.
Acting on a tip from police in Tennessee, the Sheriff's Drug Narcotics Unit began an in-vestigation into marijuana coming into Scioto County from Mexico and Texas to a Wheel-ersburg resident. The marijuana was com-pressed and then hidden in the gas tanks of pickup trucks.
A total of 198 pounds of marijuana and $63,000.00 in cash was seized in three raids on Friday and Wednesday morning.
"This was a good bust," said Sheriff Marty Donini. "The Narcotics Unit has been devel-oping this case since September."
The raids began on Friday afternoon when deputies, FBI agents, agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investi- gation and Scioto County Prosecutor's Office investigators executed a search warrant at the residence of Christopher H. Ferrell at 480 Coburn Road in Minford. During the search, officers found one pound of compressed mar- juana along with crack cocain, cocaine and prescription medication.
Ferrel, 28, was charged with fifth-degree felony possession of crack cocaine, fifth-de gree felony possession of of poder cocaine, third-degree felony possession of OxyContin and fifth-degree felony possession of marijua-
na. He is being held without bond in the in the Scioto County Jail.
As the investigation continued, officers exe-cuted a second search warrant Friday evening at a Wheelersburg residence and recovered 56 pounds of compresse marijuana and approximately $37,000.00 in cash.
On Tuesday, officers intercepted two large pickup trucks, one registered in Arkansas and the other in Tennessee. The gas tanks had been modified into three sections, one for gas and two
for compressed marijuana. As a result of the search, officers found 138 pounds of marijuana hidden in the secret compartments.
"There was no empty room in those gas tanks," said Narcotics Unit Investigator Adam Giles. "The marijuana was compressed in certain shapes to fit in there."
He said the tanks were smoothed out and repainted after the welding so there were no viable signs of alterations.
Four Mexican illegal immigrants were arrested on Tuesday: Sam Dorado, 22, of Texas was charged with second-degree felony possession of marijuana; Eduardo Oliveros Damian, tt of Texas, was charged with secon-degree felony possession of marijuana; Jaramilla Domingo, 22 of Texas, was charged with secon-degree felony possession of marijuna; and Jose Qaudis, 45 of Texas was charged with second-degree felony possession of marijuana. They will be arraigned in Portsmouth Municipal Court today.
When asked why marijuana was being imported into the county, Giles said it was a matter of cost.
"No. 1, it's not the growing season and this costs about half of what the homegrown does," he said. "This goes in the street for about $1,200 per pound. Homegrown marijuana, if you have what people like, goes for about $3,000 a pound."
Donini said there would never be a lack of work for the drug unit.
"Someone made the comment that this bust was the tip of the iceberg," he said "Yeah, depressing as that is, it's probably true. But we do everything we can."
Anyone with information about drug activity in Scioto County, can call the Scioto County Sheriff's Office at (740) 355-8245. In Portsmouth, call the Portsmouth Police Department's Narcotics Unit at (740) 354-DRUG (3784). In New Boston, call the New Boston Police's drug hotline at (740) 456-4144. All information will be kept confidential and anonymous.
MARK SHAFFER can be reached at (740) 353-3101, Ext.235.