Troopers find $1.6 million in drugs during Erie County traffic stop


MILAN, Ohio -- Troopers found hundreds of pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop on the Ohio Turnpike near here, netting three arrests.

Thomas Whithlow, 30, of Minneapolis, and Kenneth Coffin, 54, and Lucas Franz, 33, both of Seattle, are all charged with trafficking and possession of drugs. They are being held in the Erie County jail.

The men were arrested after 353 pounds of hydroponic marijuana -- worth an estimated $1,588,500 -- was found in a vehicle they were in, stopped on the Ohio Turnpike at 9:03 a.m. today, Highway patrol troopers said.

Troopers reported stopping a pickup truck for a following-too-closely violation. During the stop, troopers reported that they smelled marijuana and a search of the vehicle was conducted.

The drugs were found in a duffel bag, troopers said.

If the men are convicted, each faces up to 16 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine.