IT IS no secret illegal drugs are prevalent in the Ohio Valley. Local law enforcement agencies invest much of their time and manpower cracking down on the problem.
The drug issue will never be totally eradicated from the valley. But thanks to a well-scripted police undertaking last week, a nice chunk of local drug activity has been handcuffed.
Operation Shield was a joint effort of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Belmont County law enforcement agencies last Thursday and Friday. It was a major anti-drug initiative. It was also, by all accounts, a big success.
Departments involved included the Belmont County Drug Task Force, the sheriff's department, Bellaire, Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, Shadyside and St. Clairsville police departments and the highway patrol. They logged 12-hour shifts both days, after a month-and-a-half of planning.
The preparation and teamwork paid dividends.
The results were unveiled Tuesday at a state patrol press conference. The drug blitz cultivated a bountiful return. Operation Shield yielded 467 vehicle stops and 158 enforcement actions. This resulted in 28 criminal cases, 15 drug cases, seven felony drug cases, eight misdemeanor drug cases, 18 warrants served, eight OVIs, 19 cases of driving under suspension and 312 warnings.
Drugs seized included marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroine and prescription narcotics while one stolen motorcycle was recovered and two additional ATVs were seized. A total of $3,475 was also secured.
In conjunction with Operation Shield, a search warrant was served on a Bellaire residence where drugs, paraphernalia, prescription pills, cash and electronic devices were traded for drugs.
The numbers speak for themselves.
We view it as a productive two days of exhaustive and expert police work. We tip our hats to such a seamless crackdown and to all those involved.
Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland is also the recently appointed Drug Task Force commander. McFarland notes that it was their first operation of such magnitude undertaken with the highway patrol. He said, "I hope we continue to do more in the future."
We agree with McFarland.
Two-day blitzes like Operation Shieldcannot be staged every week. Too much is involved. We hope such endeavors play out in the future whenever feasible, as they do make an impact in the war on drugs.
Regardless, we have full faith in the Belmont County Drug Task Force in its ongoing crusade.