By MARGIE WUEBKER
Mercer County has a drug problem and some traffickers dealing
in marijuana, cocaine or prescription drugs possess weapons,
according to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office.
The latest round of drug arrests carried out early Wednesday
confirmed what the Grand Lake Task Force and the Mercer County
Sheriff’s Office suspected all along. The estimated $2,500
worth of marijuana seized boosts the value of contraband taken
off the streets in the past 12 months to $200,000.
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said the arrest of seven individuals
in the course of a day should alert parents about the existing
Contrary to what some people might think, it exists everywhere
and not in certain parts. Undercover agents have made or witnessed
drug buys in every township during the course of this investigation.
The presence of weapons — either real or realistic looking
— poses a danger not only to buyers and sellers but to
law enforcement involved in investigations and subsequent arrests.
The latest charges, all fourth- or fifth-degree felonies, stem
from an investigation covering a period from January to early
Arrested Wednesday morning on indictments handed down last week
by a Mercer County grand jury were:
• David A. Engle, 20, 1597 Menchhofer Road, Coldwater,
four counts of trafficking in marijuana or cocaine within 1,000
feet of a Celina school and two counts of trafficking in cocaine
or the prescription drug hydrocodone.
• Anthony P. Heindel, 20, 625 Jay St., Celina, three counts
of trafficking in marijuana. Each incident allegedly occurred
within 1,000 feet of a Celina school.
• Dwayne L. Hoelscher, 24, 5049 Wabash Road, Coldwater,
trafficking in marijuana and trafficking in the prescription
drug alprazolam. The alleged offenses took place in Celina and
• Jennifer Highley, 19, 5049 Wabash Road, Coldwater, trafficking
in marijuana and trafficking in alprazolam in Celina and Hopewell
• David C. Starr, 22, 3601 Wild Cherry Ave., Celina, trafficking
in marijuana within 1,000 feet of a Celina school.
• Jeffrey S. Banks, 19, 1268 Ohio 219, Fort Recovery,
trafficking in marijuana. The offense allegedly took place in
• Michael Flynn, 18, 212 Jill Ave., Celina, trafficking
in marijuana. The incident allegedly occurred in Celina.
Deputies, working in teams, knocked on doors and rang doorbells
in a coordinated effort. The result left little time for suspects
to contact friends and relatives.
No resistance was encountered during the arrests initiated after
a 6 a.m. briefing. Many of those taken into custody had just
awakened or were still in bed.
Extra personnel were sent to the Heindel home to assist in the
seizure and inventory of weapons as well as contraband. The
cache included a loaded sawed-off shotgun, a .22-caliber rifle,
a pellet gun, a bayonet and several weapons that are no longer
operable. There also were realistic-looking plastic pistols,
a fake Uzi and a green water pistol that had been spray painted
Some of the weapons were located near a drug stash that yielded
$70 in cash and 15 plastic bags containing what is believed
to be marijuana. Also recovered at the scene were drug paraphernalia
and a wood drug box with the hand-lettered inscription “Pot
is good, legalize it.”
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office will review the
seized items before determining whether Heindel faces additional
Deputies continue to look for one more local resident, two suspects
reportedly from the Dayton and Toledo areas and one out-of-state
resident. All were indicted for alleged trafficking of marijuana,
cocaine, ecstacy and prescription drugs in Celina, Rockford
With the jail population at two over the recommended 15 limit,
arrangements were made to transport the new arrivals to the
Van Wert County Jail following interrogation and booking. They
will be transported back to Mercer County for court proceedings.
The $200,000 in drugs seized this year includes three pounds
of marijuana with a street value of $7,500 found last week at
a Mendon-area home. Mature marijuana plants, with an estimated
street value of nearly $150,000, have been seized in cornfields
around Union, Blackcreek and Dublin townships in recent weeks.
Other drug-related arrests also have been made by the task force,
comprised of sheriff’s offices in Mercer and Auglaize
counties as well as representatives of the Celina, Coldwater,
Minster and New Bremen police departments.
A Jan. 30, 2002, drug raid in Mercer County turned out to be
one of the largest methamphetamine busts in Ohio. Law enforcement
officers seized 1 to 2 pounds of the drug with a reported street
value of $96,000. That does not include varying amounts of the
drug involved in transactions during the course of the two-year
A total of 19 people — one woman and 18 men — were
arrested in the wake of an 18-month investigation by the Grand
Lake Task Force. In addition, seven men were taken into custody
for immigration violations and later deported to their Mexican