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ST. MARYS — In six months, troopers from the Wapakoneta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol have made more than 30 drug-related arrests in Auglaize County.
In data released earlier this week by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, troopers statewide have made 3,963 arrests during the first six months of 2012. Lt. Scott Carrico, of the Wapakoneta Post, said troopers have been focusing on the Interstate-75 corridor.
“A lot of them are coming from I-75,” Carrico told The Evening Leader. “We are getting more training from the state on this stuff and they are looking beyond the license plates on traffic stops. I don’t know that it’s something that hasn’t been there in the past, we are just running into it more now.”
Troopers have made 34 arrests in Auglaize County, 41 in Shelby County, 18 in Van Wert County and four in Mercer County. Looking at a map, there was a high concentration of arrests along I-75 and other interstate highways.
“It’s an interstate and you have people coming out of Detroit and going south,” Carrico said. “There’s a lot of drugs that travel along the interstates — it’s easier and the quickest way from point A to point B. Once you are on it, you don’t have to get off, just to get gas.”
Statewide, troopers have seized 27,875 grams of heroin in the first six months of 2012 - a 327 percent increase during the same period in 2011. Marijuana seizures are up 107 percent with overall drug arrests across the state up 30 percent when compared to last year.
“When you look at the reduction of fatal crashes, that’s our purpose,” Carrico said. “Impairment isn’t just alcohol — it’s also drug related and it’s important to go out there and protect the communities and work on these drug couriers to remove this stuff from our highways so it’s not infiltrating our communities.”
In Auglaize County, there have been two fatal crashes this year and 14 traffic deaths in Mercer County. Carrico said he cannot explain the difference in traffic-related deaths between the two counties.
“For whatever reason, and I cannot explain it, we’ll have one county that’s up and one that’s down,” Carrico said. “Next year, hopefully we will be down in Mercer County because one fatality is unacceptable, let alone 14 who have lost their lives.”
To reduce crashes along U.S. 127, Ohio Department of Transportation officials recently installed a rumble strip down the middle of the road between Ohio 119 and Ohio 219. Carrico said he believes the rumble strips will help reduce left-of-center crashes on that stretch of the roadway.
“Once we had those crashes on 127, I contacted ODOT and checked into getting those centerline rumble strips. After working with them, they did a study and determined those may help out with the crashes.”
Carrico also encouraged motorists drive defensively.
“If you’re traveling on any road and you know traffic is crossing and you have the right-of-way, you have to anticipate that person isn’t going to stop,” Carrico said. “Your attention has to be 100 percent to your surroundings, not just looking in front of your car, but several car lengths ahead. That way if you have to make an evasive action, you know where to go.”