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Watching and waiting: Drug detectives' work often goes unnoticed by area residents

  1. ZenobiaSky
    Detective Tanner Vogelmeier tapped his gloved finger to his nose. “He probably smells marijuana,” Detective Doug Bline interpreted from a Licking County Sheriff’s Office cruiser parked across the road.

    Three detectives with the Central Ohio Drug Enforcement Task Force stopped a silver car after its driver threw trash out the window. But they weren’t looking to penalize litterers; they were looking for drugs.

    The vehicle smelled like fresh marijuana, and Detective Adam Hoskinson quickly spotted a glass jar of what appeared to be the drug on the passenger side.

    More times than not, that’s how drug investigations go in Licking County. They aren’t flashy displays of rounding up dozens of criminals; most people who complain about drugs never know detectives are working to arrest dealers, Bline said.

    Members of the task force, which includes officers from Licking, Muskingum, Coshocton, Knox and Perry counties, use a variety of strategies to catch drug dealers from “knock and talks” — officers chatting with residents in homes where neighbors have complained about drugs — to drug interdiction — stopping suspicious vehicles for minor driving violations to look for drugs.

    There’s a fine line between a person looking nervous because they’ve been speeding and someone appearing anxious because they’re delivering drugs. Understanding that line is a skill Bline has honed during more than 13 years working for the drug task force and several years of drug enforcement with Newark police.

    But it’s not perfect. A van with a Florida license plate stopped for driving too closely to other cars contained no drugs, only employees checking cellphone tower technology.

    “It’s a one in a million shot,” Bline explained. “It’s not TV.”

    After watching for suspicious vehicles, Bline and Vogelmeier stop for gas on Ohio 79 in Heath. They spot a bearded man carrying a large bag of ice into his beat-up vehicle.

    The man looked familiar. “Didn’t he do two or three years for meth?” one asked.

    A check of his license plate revealed his driver’s license was suspended, and he shouldn’t have been driving.

    “That’s pretty ballsy,” Bline said.

    Bline then parked his cruiser behind a Baptist church, out of sight from the road. From there, he waited for nearly an hour for officers in plainclothes and unmarked vehicles who were watching the homes of known drug dealers. They called over the radio with details of vehicles parked in garages and driveways, possibly indicating the suspects were at home sleeping.

    With methamphetamine, it’s not uncommon for users to stay awake for days then sleep for days, Bline said.

    None of the officers spotted any drug sales that afternoon.

    Driving back down the road, a Chevrolet Tahoe turned without signaling right in front of the cruiser. The driver was a heroin user and dealer. The man had prior convictions, but his passenger said he hasn’t used drugs in two years.

    It would be difficult to know if she was telling the truth, but the driver volunteered to let Bline and Vogelmeier search his Chevrolet Tahoe — an offer the detectives did not take him up on — and he looked healthy.

    “You have to gauge their truthfulness,” Bline said. “But he seemed good.”

    Jessie Balmert
    May 31, 2014 12:51 PM
    Newark Advocate
    http://www.newarkadvocate.com/artic...s-work-often-goes-unnoticed-by-area-residents

    The Newhawks Crew

Comments

  1. Basoodler
    Re: Watching and waiting: Drug detectives' work often goes unnoticed by area resident

    Lots of drugs are moved through Ohio because several major highway systems cross paths in a small area right in the middle of the state near Columbus.

    For a couple years I used i-35 to get to work. 35 runs sort of diagonally from east to west and for the most part avoids population centers.. Anyway it was not at all uncommon to see major shit going down right on the margin of the highway at all times of the day. Especially in the southeaster portion that runs from Huntington WV into Ohio . hell one day as I drove over an embankment I saw a damn state trooper standing right in the slow lane in the prone position with his gun aimed directly at a car.. I had no idea what to do.. Do I stop and wait or pass...to make matters worse I saw more cops with guns off to the side of the road aimed at some "perps" who were face down on side of the lane..

    With all those guns out I figured it best to pass the shit quickly and kinda cut through the center grass area until it was clear..

    Seeing shit like that was normal on that stretch, once or twice a week. I'd say that aside from the gun thing the most interesting site I passed was what looked like a mixture of feds and highway patrol searching one of those chrome campers .. There was actual lab equipment stacked up in plain site.. Not shake and bake stuff , I'm talking beakers and mixers and other expensive looking shit.

    I know that drug interdiction zones are common in some of towns along those highways.. With signs up informing everyone that the police don't need probable cause to search your person or pull over your car.. Not sure how that is constitutional.. I guess the fact you are there is considered probable cause.. Oh and those are in small to medium rural towns..

    Very aggressive indeed
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