Drug bust in Bellaire

BELLAIRE A Thursday morning check on a residence on Wagner Ave. by the Bellaire Police Department led to a sizable portion of marijuana being confiscated from two homes on Wagner Ave.

Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk and Lt. Donna Baroch founded potted marijuana plots growing outside a home on Wagner ave.

“They were approximately 5-6 feet tall. We confiscated two there and the next thing you know, we’re talking with a (electric) meter reader about additional plants discovered a 325 Wagner Ave,” Kovalyk said.

The chief and Lt. Baroch went to 325 Wagner, where they observed several marijuana plants through the window. The house was listed as vacant, so they went to the rear of the house, finding more plants in the backyard.

When the two observed the back door was open, they entered the premises.

They discovered an extensive indoor growth operation. Kovlayk, a member of the Belmont County Drug Task Force board, then phoned the task force and other officers responded, including Bridgeport Police Chief Andrew Klotz and one of his officers.

“We ended up taking out over 30 of these plants, each about 6-feet tall,” Kovalyk said. “We also took all the equipment and growing materials, along with the lighting used.”

Kovalyk noted there was preparation equipment found that looked to be the beginnins of a hydroponic growth system for the plants.

The chief then contacted Village Administrator Dan Marling and the two got the water to the house shut off. A vehicle had been parked atop the water shutoff, so it needed to be towed.

Kovalyk stated he got a hold of the property owner, who gave permission to move anything illegal in nature from the premises.

Two truckloads of plants and equipment were removed from the home and transported to the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office for storage.

“It’s a joint operation between the Bellaire Police Department and the drug task force and it shows what joint cooperation can do,” Kovalyk said, noting that thousands of dollars of marijuana which would have been sold has been removed from the street.

This came after Wednesday’s arrest of 19-year-old Kyle Palmer and 20-year-old Gina Palmer following a car crash.

Upon search of the crash vehicle, officers discovered 17 heroin stamps.

Kyle Palmer was charged with possession of drug instruments, driving under suspension and failure to control. His wife, Gina Palmer, was charged with possession of heroin and drug instruments.

Kovlak stated that the driver, Kyle, had allegedly shot up and overdosed on heroin which caused the crash.

Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com