Eastern Ohio drug fight going postal

MARTINS FERRY – In the last month, the Belmont County Drug Task Force has intercepted two suspicious packages from local post offices.

Both busts have resulted in arrests and the seizure of nine to 10 pounds of marijuana, which was better quality, then what the task force has had in the past.

The packages were declared suspicious by the post office when the address came back as non-existent or names did not match the addresses.

“When the post office feels that a package is suspicious, they have to report it to the postal inspector in Cleveland,” said Drug Task Force Commander and Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland. “In return, they contact us about the situation they have.”

This has became a new problem for the Drug Task Force.?The last time they had a situation like this was about eight or nine years ago, according to McFarland. This bust resulted in one of the biggest seizures the Drug Task Force has ever had.

“We are learning more and with the training the task force officers go through, they are learning new tricks,” said McFarland. “We learn that there are a lot drugs being sent through the UPS, Fed Ex and the postal service.”

Along with extra training, Drug Task Force officers are trying to come up with more ways that they can be more aggressive and useful to tackle this problem. This would include officers of the Drug Task Force working with the post services more and having the drug dogs in Belmont County do more sniffs.

“Hopefully, we will increase the amount of drugs we recover . I am sure there is a lot that goes through that we do not get, but we are trying with the group of people we have that are trying to be better with what we have to work with and try to get as much as we can,” said McFarland.

According to McFarland, these drug bust take a lot of man hours and a lot of people, but they are more concerned with getting the drugs off the street then getting the arrest.

“We plan on having a better working relationship and being more aggressive with the postal service, UPS and Fed Ex I order for us to get into the post office, the package have to be declared suspicious in order for us to have a dog come in,” said McFarland. “There are other angles we can go and working more with them, in hopes that we will continue to make bigger arrest in the future … having the dog there to do these sniffs is an amazing asset because if it wasn’t for the dog, we would not have the evidence to have the search warrant or make an arrest.”

Van Dyne can be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com.