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Published: Thursday, 11/13/2003

Troopers arrest pair, seize high-grade marijuana cache

The Ohio Highway Patrol seized 54 pounds of marijuana it claims is worth $2.4 million after troopers stopped two vehicles Tuesday on the Ohio Turnpike near the Reynolds Road interchange.

Joshua Bloom, 26, of Pompano Beach, Fla., and Mechele E. Foley, 28, of Occidental, Calif., were being last night in the Lucas County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond each set by Judge Gary Byers in Maumee Municipal Court.

Ms. Foley is charged with aggravated trafficking and is scheduled to be back in court today.

Mr. Bloom is charged with conspiracy to drug trafficking and will make a second court appearance Tuesday.

Troopers stopped the two eastbound vehicles about 4:05 p.m. for traffic violations.

Sgt. Dean Laubacher said one of the troopers decided to use a drug-detecting dog to search the vehicle driven by a woman, and the search yielded 54 pounds of marijuana in large duffel bags.

Sergeant Laubacher said the dog was riding with the trooper before the stop.

Lt. Rick Fambro, a spokesman for the patrol in Columbus, insisted dogs aren t used on all traffic stops, but troopers have wide discretion to use dogs.

Sergeant Laubacher declined to say what led the trooper to use the dog.

“We don t want to educate the criminals,” he said.

Ms. Foley and Mr. Bloom were arrested after the discovery.

Troopers have said the type of marijuana found Tuesday is grown in British Columbia and known to be highly potent. They said it is traded on the street at the same price as cocaine.

Troopers used the going rate for cocaine of $2,841 an ounce, or nearly $45,500 a pound, to calculate the street value of the marijuana.

Authorities said B.C. bud marijuana has been available in Ohio only for a few years as its distribution spreads nationwide.

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