Whether or not drug cartels were involved in the deaths of eight Pike County family members last month, they are active in southern Ohio, where three Mexican cartels have been tied to the distribution of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine.
Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said the cartels involved in drug distribution and sales in the area include Sinaloa, La Familia and Los Zetas, all Mexico-based crime syndicates.
The Mexican Mafia, a U.S. prison gang, is tapped for security on the drug runs, Plummer said. His deputies routinely encounter cartel members, he said, some of whom have been deported numerous times.
Plummer’s deputies participate in the Bulk Currency Task Force, a combined effort with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Homeland Security.
Over the past 2 1/2 years, the task force has seized 99 pounds of heroin, 67 pounds of cocaine, 1,351 pounds of marijuana, 41 pounds of methamphetamine, and 4,938 pills — about $14.6 million in value for all the drugs.
They’ve also seized $3.94 million in currency and 39 firearms. There have been 243 arrests associated with the seizures.
Lately, Plummer said, the cartels have been trying to create a new market for meth, with more of that drug flowing into the region.
“It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry for them and they have resources to do anything they want,” Plummer said. “We lack the resources.
“Now that we have become a source city for drug distribution, we need more resources to combat this problem,” he said, frustrated at being turned down by the Montgomery County Commission following requests for more funding.
“I ask for more people and they turn me down,” he said.