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A collaborative effort between state troopers in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Indiana focused on Interstate 70 and Interstate 75 recently in an ongoing effort to combat drug trafficking and impaired driving.
The multi-agency enforcement effort, which extended from Thursday through Saturday, was part of the 6 State Trooper Project, aimed at providing combined and coordinated law enforcement and security services in the areas of highway safety, criminal patrol and intelligence sharing.
Across the states, the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) enforcement effort netted 78 arrests for impaired driving and 40 criminal cases.
“Successful multi-agency enforcement efforts, like the one this past weekend, illustrate the collective power of making our roadways and communities safer for everyone,” OSHP Superintendent Col. John Born said.
From throughout the state, Born picked one Auglaize County traffic stop, which resulted in the illegal transportation of prescription pills, to cite as an example of law enforcement efforts in Ohio during the 6 State Trooper Project.
Born said the trooper stopped a 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier at 12:25 a.m. Friday after observing it following too closely to another vehicle north of the Wapakoneta rest area on Interstate 75.
Observing criminal indicators, the trooper obtained consent to search the vehicle and uncovered 195 Xanax, 125 Methadone, 20 Hydrocodone and two Oxycodone pills, as well as 15 grams of marijuana, in a duffle bag on the floor of the vehicle.
The vehicle’s driver, Brian Scott, 43, of Detroit, was charged with possession of a schedule I substance, a third-degree felony, and possession of a schedule II substance, a fourth-degree felony.
He was incarcerated in the Auglaize County Jail and if convicted faces a maximum sentence of 6 1/2 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
OSHP Wapakoneta Post Commander Lt. Scott Carrico said the multi-state enforcement effort also resulted in the seizure of approximately 18 pounds of hydroponic marijuana valued at more than $112,000, when a Wapakoneta trooper stopped a Mercury Marauder for speed and marked lanes violations near the Ohio 29 exit on Interstate 75 at 12:25 a.m. Sunday.
Troopers again observed criminal indicators and an odor of raw marijuana giving them probable cause to search the vehicle and located 17.6 pounds of marijuana in vacuum-sealed packages in the trunk.
The motorist, Tariq Jamal Haliburton, 25, of Everett, Wash., and the passenger, Russell Gregory Lyttle, 31, of Detroit, were incarcerated in the Auglaize County Jail and charged with possession of marijuana, a third-degree felony, and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony. If convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $12,500 fine.
The multi-state effort resulted locally in 190 motor vehicle contacts, 107 citations, 43 warnings, 21 defective vehicles, four seatbelt citations and five citations for aggressive driving.
Carrico said most noteworthy were citations for speed and following too closely — two of the major crash causing violations in the area, along with failure to yield and again following too closely, which are considered aggressive driving.
“Officers working were looking for OVI (operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs) offenses, aggressive driving and seatbelt violations,” Carrico said.
He said they concentrated on times of day when traffic was heaviest and brought in aviation assistance to monitor roadways.
“When you put additional officers out, it’s for visibility and a deterrent,” Carrico said. “When other departments in other states are doing it at the same time, people from out of the area traveling through notice.
“When someone from Michigan travels through three states and sees troopers the whole time, it’s a deterrent from criminal activity,” he said.
Increased enforcement also provides a better opportunity to make more contacts with motorists who are not obeying the law, he said.
While it takes a lot of work to set up multi-state and multi-jurisdiction enforcement efforts, he said the results are worth it and they try to take part in at least one annually.
“Other states have the same crash problems we do on the interstate and it helps all of us to address those problems together,” Carrico said.