Fentanyl, meth top among drug seizures in Warren County

Drug traffickers from Mexico and the West coast continue to be major sources of drugs confiscated by the Greater Warren County Drug Task Force, its commander said.

“Drug trends remained consistent in 2021 with methamphetamine and heroin/fentanyl remaining our greatest drug threat,” said Maj. Steve Arrasmith, Drug Task Force commander, during a recent presentation to Waynesville village council. “Our investigations continue to identify Mexico as a primary source of supply for methamphetamine and fentanyl seized in our area.”

The county Drug Task Force operates on state and federal grants and local contributions of cash and/or loaned detectives from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and local municipal and township police agencies in Warren County and in the city of Wilmington in Clinton County.

It provides specialized drug enforcement services including a team of detectives and agents with advanced training in the area of covert law enforcement. The multi-jurisdiction unit specializes in the investigation of drug trafficking, prescription drug diversion, money laundering, and other drug-related crime, according to Arrasmith.

The unit also has criminal intelligence analyst from the Ohio National Guard Counter Drug Unit, an investigative assistant from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, and a full-time drug interdiction team with K-9s from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The county Drug Task Force also has personnel from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

In 2021, the county Drug Task Force investigated 669 new cases and drug tips. These resulted in 300 felony arrests; 101 misdemeanor arrests; executed 122 search warrants; seized 64 firearms; conducted 1,501 traffic stops with 110 K-9 deployments/sniffs, according to the unit’s annual report.

In addition, the unit and other local police agencies collected 5,072 pounds of prescription medication at two national drug take back days as well as at drug drop-off boxes around the county.

Arrasmith said drugs arrive from the southwest border and West Coast states and flow through the Cincinnati and Dayton areas, and remain readily available for use by the county’s addicted population. Traffickers also take advantage to the proximity of Interstates 71 and 75 to transport illegal drugs, he said.

In mid-December 2021, the Ohio Department of Public Safety ranked Warren County as the 10th highest county in the state for fentanyl seizures and 13th highest county for methamphetamine seizures.

Arrasmith said the investigation of prescription drug diversion crimes remain a priority for the Drug Task Force. During 2021, the state ranked Warren County first for the seizure of non-opiate prescription drugs and third in the state for the highest number of prescription opiate drug seizures, according to the task force’s annual report.

He said prescription drugs remain common drugs of abuse for many people, especially those employed in the medical profession because of the increased accessibility to prescription drugs.

Waynesville Village Council approved its annual contribution to the Greater Warren County Drug Task Force with an increased amount. The village had been invoiced for a $5,668 contribution for 2022, which is the same amount that was paid in previous years, said Village Manager/Police Chief Gary Copeland.

However, council members opted to increase the 2022 contribution to $9,000, which is about $3 per resident. Copeland said the contribution from Waynesville was about $2 per resident last year.

“They do a lot for the county and we appreciate what they do,” Copeland said. “My goal is to keep Waynesville drug-free and I will take any help I can get.”

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