(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — The law enforcement task forces organized under the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC) confiscated more than $63 million in illegal drugs in 2023, including notable increases in cocaine and psilocybin mushrooms, Ohio Attorney General Yost announced today.
“Our major drug interdiction task forces are taking drugs, guns and cash off the streets and holding traffickers accountable,” Yost said. “The bottom line is that poisons like fentanyl continue to stream into Ohio and ruin lives. Stopping the flow of illegal drugs has been and will continue to be a top priority.”
In 2023, the task forces also seized 400 firearms and $5,471,132 million in currency.
“The role of these drug task forces in the safety of our communities cannot be overstated,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “I sincerely appreciate the collaborative work of state, local, and federal law enforcement officers in 2023, and I’m grateful for their continued dedication to public safety in the year to come.”
Under AG Yost’s leadership, OOCIC task forces have seized more than 1,774 firearms, $61 million in currency, and narcotics valued in excess of $304 million.
Here is a breakdown of the drugs confiscated in 2023:
Task forces also seized quantities of heroin (2.45 lbs.), crack cocaine (3.3 lbs.), khat (664 lbs.), MDMA (2.5 lbs.) and xylazine (2.2 lbs.).
Cocaine quantities surged in 2023. The 520 pounds seized in 2023 significantly exceeded the quantities seized by task forces in previous years:
Task forces also saw a notable increase in the quantity of psilocybin mushrooms seized during 2023:
Under OOCIC’s direction, task forces are formed through collaborative efforts and often involve local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Specifically, major drug interdiction task forces operate throughout the state with a focus on seizing illegal narcotics, weapons and cash before they impact Ohio communities.
“These investigations prove that the federal, state and local partnerships across Ohio are strong and delivering results,” said HSI Detroit Special Agent in Charge Angie M. Salazar. “I am grateful for the hard work of these task forces and their dedication to protect and serve the communities and the people of Ohio.”
Several major drug task forces exist and are funded through RecoveryOhio, in concert with the Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Criminal Justice Services.
“I can’t say enough about how great our partners are. I’m proud to stand on the front line with the local police chiefs, mayors and sheriffs that provide personnel and resources to these task forces,” Yost said. “I’m also grateful to the legislature and Gov. DeWine who ensure that we have the funding necessary to operate these task forces. Without their support, this success would not have been accomplished.”
2023 Notable Seizures
Here is a sampling of the seizures in 2023:
Licking, Muskingum, Guernsey County Major Drug Task Force (CODE Task Force)
In July, agents from the CODE Task Force, working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on a suspected trafficking case at a parcel facility, seized approximately 4 pounds of methamphetamine.
In October, the task force executed as search warrant on a residence in the city of Newark. Agents recovered more than 2 pounds of methamphetamine and a small amount of fentanyl. Several days later, the task force located a vehicle driven by a suspect and initiated a traffic stop. The driver failed to comply and a pursuit occurred, ultimately ending with the vehicle striking a tree and the driver fleeing on foot. The driver was apprehended by a K-9 and the subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of additional fentanyl within the vehicle.
The task force includes the sheriff’s offices in Licking, Muskingum, Guernsey, Knox, Perry and Coshocton counties; the Ohio State Highway Patrol; the U.S. Postal Inspector; Homeland Security Investigations; and the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office.
Central Ohio OOCIC / HIDTA Major Drug Interdiction Task Force
|In March and April, the task force, which operates in Franklin and Madison counties, executed numerous search warrants as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation. In total, more than 280 pounds of cocaine and bulk amounts of currency were seized.
In late November, the task force made multiple significant seizures, including intercepting 15 pounds of methamphetamine and 2.2 pounds of cocaine destined for the central Ohio area.
The task force includes the Columbus Division of Police, the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Gahanna Police, the Internal Revenue Service, Homeland Security Investigations, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, the State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Postal Inspector, Ohio HIDTA and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
ONSET Task Force (Summit, Medina and Cuyahoga Counties)
In August, task force agents with ONSET, working alongside Homeland Security Investigations, stopped two individuals that were about to board a flight to San Francisco from Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Law enforcement seized $27,350 in currency from one individual and $22,350 from the other. The second person stated that he had narcotics at his residence. A consent search at the resident resulted in the seizure of 200 grams of cocaine, 2,900 grams of fentanyl, a money counter, and ammunition.
|In November, the task force made two separate seizures of more than 12 pounds of fentanyl pills.The task force includes the sheriff’s offices in Medina and Summit counties, the Copley Township Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Medina County Drug Task Force, the State Highway Patrol, the Summit County Drug Task Force, the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office and the Medina County Prosecutor’s Office.
Hamilton County Major Drug Interdiction Task Force (RENU)
During an operation conducted from Aug. 29-31, the task force seized 13 pounds of methamphetamine and 53 pounds of marijuana destined for the Cincinnati area.
In October, the task force seized 6.5 pounds of psilocybin mushrooms, also meant for Cincinnati.
A long-term investigation including a series of search warrants was completed during 2023 related to Jarman Hargrove, who was charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking and drug possession and having a weapon under disability. The task force seized 9 kilograms of fentanyl, 4.5 kilograms of cocaine, five firearms and $62,052 in currency during the investigation.
The task force includes the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, Regional Narcotics unit, Green Township Police Department and the Cheviot Police Department.
Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force (Montgomery and Clark counties)
In August, the task force conducted an investigation of a Phoenix group believed to be bringing fentanyl pills into Ohio. The task force located the group’s vehicle and driver at a local truck stop and surveilled the vehicle before ultimately conducting a traffic stop. Three people were arrested and more than 10,000 fentanyl pills were recovered.
The task force includes the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Vandalia Police Department, Butler Township Police Department, BCI, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations and the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.
Mahoning Valley Major Drug Interdiction Task Force (Mahoning and Trumbull counties)
|In October, agents with the Mahoning Valley Major Drug Interdiction Task Force along with the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force and Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force served a search warrant on a residence in Youngstown, where they seized 3 pounds of cocaine, more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine and over $55,000 in currency.
The task force includes the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force, BCI, and the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office.
Belmont, Harrison, Jefferson Major Drug Interdiction Task Force
In October, the task force executed a search warrant that resulted in the arrest of six people and the seizure of 56 grams of fentanyl, 34 grams of crack cocaine, and $1,723 in currency.
The task force includes the sheriff’s offices of Belmont, Harrison and Jefferson counties, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and the prosecutor’s offices of Belmont, Harrison and Jefferson counties.
Northwest Ohio Major Drug Interdiction Task Force (Lucas and Wood counties)
During an investigation in March, the task force was monitoring a vehicle and eventually attempted a traffic stop. The vehicle sped away, and during the pursuit, two loaded pistols were thrown out the window. The task force recovered the guns, 1 gram of fentanyl and a scale. One occupant was arrested and another, who left his identification in the vehicle, is the subject of a warrant for felonious assault.
The task force includes the Toledo Police Department, the sheriff’s offices in Lucas and Wood counties, Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the Toledo Drug Task Force, the State Highway Patrol, Perrysburg Police, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office and the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office.