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  1. jon-q
    A hidden compartment in your vehicle, with or without drugs, could mean big trouble as Ohio officials get serious about slowing down drug-smuggling.

    A proposed state law, advocated by Gov. John Kasich, would make it a fourth-degree felony to own a vehicle equipped with secret compartments. A conviction would mean up to 18 months in jail and a potential $5,000 fine.

    The hidden-compartment law, coupled with nearly 150 new highway signs warning traffickers that they face prison time in Ohio, are part of a stepped-up drug interdiction campaign announced yesterday by Kasich. The governor gave a brief commencement address at graduation ceremonies for the 151st Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy class at the academy, adjacent to the state fairgrounds.

    Kasich unveiled a new number for motorists with cellphones — #677 — to alert law enforcement about possible drug activities.

    “A lot of the people that are dealing these drugs are after our kids,” Kasich said at a news conference. “When you see something, call this number.”

    The governor’s news conference, held in a patrol academy garage, played out against the backdrop of a pickup truck loaded with tens of thousands of dollars of cocaine, heroin and marijuana. The drugs were scooped up in the patrol’s expanding and increasingly successful campaign to slow down drug trafficking by stopping smugglers on the highways.

    Last year, troopers seized nearly 6 million grams of illegal drugs valued at $69.5 million, Kasich said. The patrol made more than 6,000 drug arrests, 9 percent more than 2010. So far this year, the patrol has seized more heroin than in all of 2011, officials said.

    Part of the new drug-interdiction strategy is legislation to be introduced by Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, that would make it a fourth-degree felony to own a vehicle that has special hidden compartments — whether or not they are found to hold drugs. Currently, there is no state law prohibiting secret compartments, frequently used for drug smuggling.

    A draft of the law describes a hidden compartment as a “space, box, or other closed container” that is added, modified or attached to an existing vehicle.
    Hughes’ proposal is aimed at vehicles like one displayed yesterday — a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado stopped by a patrol trooper on I-71 in Medina County last year. The vehicle was equipped with a sophisticated electronic system that opened hidden compartments located behind the rear taillights. A combination of relay signals, activated by having the ignition on, tapping the brake pedal, seat lever and switches on the dashboard, caused the taillight assembly to slide out, exposing the hidden compartments.

    When the vehicle was stopped, the compartments contained 6 kilograms of cocaine, apparently destined for Akron. The driver, Stan Hatch, 63, of Fort Wayne, Ind., was charged with possession of drugs and sentenced to eight years in prison.

    “This stuff has been moving to and from Ohio, and has been for years,” said Col. John Born, patrol superintendent.

    Law-enforcement officials said Ohio is a critical crossroads for interstate trafficking of drugs because of several major interstate highways that pass through the state and the state’s proximity to Canada.

    The new road signs, with both white and blue backgrounds, will be erected on numerous highways, particularly interstates just inside Ohio’s state lines. The money for the signs comes from drug-related property forfeitures. The #677 number is being provided at no cost to the state by a consortium of cellular companies.

    Alan Johnson
    The Columbus Dispatch 25TH Feb 2012


  1. dnb_coqui
    So my iPod compartment could be considered a place to hide drugs? F*nk the fedz
  2. Mick Mouse
    I see it said "proposed law" at the beginning? I do not see this going through, how can the government order you not to modify your personal property? I can understand if the modification somehow compromised the safety or integrity of the vehicle, but other than that? Next they will say that drug dealers have tinted windows, so that is illegal. Or loud stereos. Maybe you are just a paranoid fuck who has a complex about people seeing your underwear while you are on a vacation, so you built a compartment to keep them hidden. What's wrong with that? Besides, with the wording that they use, a tool box in your trunk or on the back of your truck could land you in prison!
  3. makin
    I sincerely hope this doesn't become law, however, tinted front windows and loud stereos are illegal in California.

    Go figure..............
  4. PalomoJames7420
    Is this a joke? Seriously we are losing our freedoms, we should not have big brother telling us how we should furnish or organize our cars. I feel infringement of our freedoms should be against the law, what if those "secret" compartments happen to be for actual organization for otherwise loose items. People are getting more ignorant as time goes on. First mufflers, then window tint, and now compartments!
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