4,531 Ohio Highway Drug Arrests So Far This Year: What We're Reading

[image-1]Mother Jones took a ride with the Ohio State Highway Patrol recently, garnering a close look at how officers intercept drugs being trafficked across the state and, otherwise, "hunt criminals."

It's a good read. With the heroin addiction crisis growing worse by the hour here in Ohio, the OSHP plays a vital role in the law enforcement corner of the solution. Last year, the patrol "seized 167 pounds of heroin—the equivalent to about 2 million doses on the streets—and 64,708 opiate pills," MoJo's Julia Lurie reports.

So far this year, troopers have made 4,531 drug-related arrests. (See the map, which shows how arrests have been made along every inch of major freeway in Ohio.) But in the MoJo piece, Lurie explains how officers do that, how they take a hunch and turn it into an arrest — or a broader investigation.

The sergeant's job is, in the split second that cars pass by, to look for telltale signs of drug couriers. It's typical for people to see the car, slow down, and then speed back up once they've passed him—those are the people he's not interested in. He's not interested in people speeding, or the drivers who look confident and relaxed. He is interested in rental cars, overly cautious drivers who stay below the speed limit, people who look in their rearview mirrors at him as they pass by, cars with tinted windows, drivers who look like they're scrambling to move or adjust something as they pass, cars with recent fingerprints on the trunk. Cars that move into the right lane or that are closely tailing another are also red flags—they're trying to distance themselves from the patrol car and blend into their surroundings, says the sergeant. Ultimately, a lot of the job is based on gut instinct: After years of watching thousands of cars go by, "your intuition will tell you when something's wrong," says [Lt. Robert] Sellers.

During Lurie's ride-along, she's there for a few weed busts (including the seizure of "two quarts of marijuana Kool-Aid").

The piece is a helpful glimpse across the yellow line, one affords a bit more clarity on how officers are tracking drivers and enforcing various drug laws. One supposes, though, that the marijuana Kool-Aid isn't as significant a problem as the millions of doses of heroin coursing across Ohio asphalt in a given year.

Read the full Mother Jones piece here.

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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