The Ohio State Highway Patrol has increased its drug arrests by 20 percent in the first half of 2016. Troopers have made 7,493 total arrests from January through June.
The agency has so far seized 885,221 grams of marijuana; 38,804 grams of cocaine; 1,266 grams of crack and 53,514 grams of heroin. The percentage of drug cases that involve felony charges has increased 37 percent over the previous 3-year average (2013-2015).
Specifically, the highway patrol has seen dramatic increases in several types of drugs. Methamphetamine has been the most dramatic increase at 2,225 percent, heroin has increased by 634 percent and marijuana by 139 percent.
In May, the highway patrol stopped a driver for following too closely in Madison County. The stop led to the discovery of 6 kilos of cocaine, about 13.2 pounds, worth approximately $600,000 in the trunk of the car.
Lt. Mark Neff, Medina Post Commander, acknowledges that most felonies in Ohio will involve the highway system at some point. "That means troopers have an opportunity to stop a crime by looking for criminal indicators during traffic stops," he said.
When asked about what possible indicators are, Lt. Neff couldn't go into too many specifics. He did say that patrolmen are trained to look beyond the traffic stop and into the purpose and reason of the trip. They try to analyze the behavior of the driver, if they're overly-nervous or won't calm down. He said that to his knowledge, no complaints or lawsuits have been filed in relation to the increased attention to criminal indicators.
Counties with a notable number of felony drug arrests include: Cuyhagoa with 162, Lorain with 77, Richland with 62, Summit with 44, Franklin with 126, Trumbull with 92 and Scioto with 104.
Vice cases, primarily drug-related, are by far the most frequent felony cases handled by the highway patrol, but there were several other classifications worthy of note. So far this year, they've dealt with 893 cases of assault, 318 larceny cases and 13 homicide or death cases. The state highway patrol has handled 2,154 felony vice cases so far in 2016.