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April 17, 2017, 07:41:44 AM

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, OTFCA Announce the Results of Major Multi-County Drug Sweep

By Timothy Perry

August 26, 2015 - 11:21 AM

COLUMBUS- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined members of the Ohio Task Force Commanders' Association (OTFCA), Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, and Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association for a press conference at the Rhodes Office Tower in Columbus today to announce the results of Operation OTFCA, an intensive drug enforcement effort conducted last week.

OTFCA was created in recent months as a collaborative way of dealing with the drug problem in Ohio’s communities. Nearly 400 law enforcement officers representing 29 OFTCA task forces participated in "Operation OTFCA," which took place across Ohio over the last several weeks. The Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation has involvement with many of the task forces.

The goal of "Operation OTFCA" was to target those trafficking drugs such as heroin, prescription drugs, and cocaine into Ohio's communities.  Many task forces also provided information on treatment and addiction recovery assistance to those taken into custody. According to Jeff Orr, president of OFTCA, the original goal of last week’s sweep, which was the first drug sweep conducted by OTFCA, was to get as many drugs off the streets as possible during the week before school started.

“The results are very good” said DeWine. According to OTFCA, 108 search warrants were served across the state as part of the initiative, and 409 people were arrested on at least 920 charges, most of which were drug related.  As part of the initiative, 224 heroin-related charges were filed, 140 charges involved cocaine offenses, 110 charges were filed relating to prescription drugs, 82 charges involved marijuana, and 51 charges involved methamphetamine.

“The Drugs are valued at more than 5 million [dollars] and 1.3 million in cash was seized”, DeWine went on to say.

According to DeWine, the United States is in the midst of a drug epidemic. “This is the worst drug epidemic I’ve ever seen”, he noted.

(Graphic provided by the Office of the Ohio Attorney General)

DeWine particularly focused on the heroine problem. He noted that “Heroine is ripping apart families across the United States.  He went on to say that “the most important thing that communities can do across the state of Ohio is to recognize that every community has a heroine problem. If you don't think you have a problem, you either do have a problem or you will have a problem".

DeWine emphasized that conducting drug operations was only one piece of a very large puzzle when dealing with drug problems. “Treatment is very important and prevention is probably the most important part", he said.

The sheriffs present at the conference seem to all agree that the I-75 and I-71 corridors are hotspots for drug transport activity but they are not the only transport corridors. "Our job is to interrupt any drug activity that is happening in the state of Ohio", Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Stanley noted.

Orr said that in the process of serving search warrants, evidence of other types of crime is often discovered. He told the story of how a recent execution of a search warrant resulted in the discovery of bones within the home.

"Because of this operation, millions of dollars' worth of drugs will never make it onto the streets and into the hands of those suffering from addiction," said Attorney General DeWine. "I applaud the local, state, and federal authorities who worked to make this initiative a success and who also work every day to make Ohio a safer place."

Task forces operating as part of the Ohio Task Force Commanders' Association are funded by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services. 

Locally, both the Mount Vernon Police Department and the Knox county Sheriff's Office are involved with the task force through the METRICH Enforcement Unit and the Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force respectively. 

"I have been a member of the Ohio Task Force Commanders' Association since it was formed, and I haven't met a more passionate group of law enforcement executives working to combat Ohio's drug problems through enforcement, prevention, and treatment," Orr said.

When asked where the Task Force will go from here, Orr responded simply, by saying, “the next operation”.

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