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The Daily



10-23-03: Marijuana, weapons, seized at drug raid


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.

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Highley Hoelscher Starr  

Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said the arrest of seven individuals in the course of a day should alert parents about the existing drug problem.
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 summer.
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 Hopewell Township.
• Jennifer Highley, 19, 5049 Wabash Road, Coldwater, trafficking in marijuana and trafficking in alprazolam in Celina and Hopewell Township.
• 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 Coldwater.
• 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 black.
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 charges.
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 and Montezuma.
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 investigation.
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 homeland.


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