Using helicopters and tips from residents, members of the Multi-Area Narcotics Task Force found and seized more than 1,000 marijuana plants in a weeklong eradication effort.
During the week of Aug. 11, 1,324 plants were unearthed in fields throughout Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Putnam, and Williams counties. The majority of the plants, about 80 percent, were found in Fulton County, said Capt. Douglas Engel, director of the narcotics unit.
A Fulton County man was arrested as a result of the effort, Captain Engel said.
“Throughout the course of the year, basically we, with the assistance of the [Ohio] Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, we do what we call marijuana eradication, where they fly over and check areas,” said Captain Engel of the Defiance County Sheriff's Department.
A mature marijuana plant can be made into one to two pounds of sellable drugs, valued between $1,000 and $1,500. Captain Engel said the seized plants had a potential street value of more than $2 million.
Arrested during the eradication effort was Jad Sweidan, 55, of Lyons, Ohio. Mr. Sweidan was indicted on five charges including third-degree felony counts of cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana over 1,000 grams but less than 5,000 grams; and second-degree felony counts of cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana over 20,000 grams.
Mr. Sweidan also was charged with having a weapon under disability, a felony of the fifth degree, a charge that resulted after officers searched his residence and allegedly found a handgun, shotgun, and rifle.
The eradication wasn't the only drug bust made recently. Earlier offi-cers of the task force had seized 551 plants within its jurisdiction, all found as a result of citizen complaints. Some farmers discovered the plants growing among their crops.
“We have to follow it up with the landowners, who for the most part have no idea this is on their land,” Captain Engel said.
The task force includes officers from the Defiance City Police Department, Defiance County sheriff's office, Fulton County sheriff's office, Henry County sheriff's office, Putnam County sheriff's office, Bryan Police Department, and the William's County sheriff's office.
The task force is also credited with aiding in the arrest of 10 people Tuesday on various drug charges. The 10 are among 15 people indicted by a Putnam County Grand Jury Friday on 37 counts of drug trafficking, all the result of a six-month investigation.
Those arrested are being held in the Putnam County Adult Detention Facility pending arraignment in Common Pleas Court on Friday. They include:
w Daniel Aguirre II, 18, of Columbus Grove, one count of offering to sell cocaine, a fifth-degree felony.
w Juan Camareno, 46, of Ottawa, a fourth-degree felony count of trafficking in marijuana and a fifth-degree count of trafficking in cocaine.
w Maurilio Molina, Jr., 29, of West Leipsic, four counts of trafficking in cocaine, all fifth-degree felonies.
w Aaron Morales, 21, of Columbus Grove, two fourth-degree counts of trafficking in cocaine and one third-degree count of trafficking in cocaine.
w Narketta Mullins, 28, of Columbus Grove, one count of trafficking in marijuana and three counts of trafficking in cocaine, all fourth-degree felonies.
w John Shoe, 39, of Lima, two counts of trafficking in cocaine, fifth-degree felonies.
w Bobbi Radabaugh, 30, of Columbus Grove, one count of trafficking in marijuana and five counts of trafficking in cocaine, all felonies of various degrees.
w Gayle Foster, 22, of Columbus Grove, trafficking in methamphetamine, a third-degree felony.
w Melissa Sites, 22, of Lima, one count each of a third-degree and fourth-degree charge of trafficking in methamphetamine.
w Darlene Sites, 44, of Spencerville, two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine and two counts of trafficking in cocaine.