Agents seize 480 pounds of pot shipped from Mexico to Warren are - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Agents seize 480 pounds of pot shipped from Mexico to Warren area

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WARREN, Ohio -

Local and federal drug enforcement officials believe a smuggling operation from Mexico didn't go as planned for whoever hid 480 pounds of marijuana inside several new cars.

Federal and local drug enforcement agencies were able to seize the estimated $1 million dollars worth of marijuana.

According to the Portage County Sheriff's Office, drug task force agents and the DEA became aware of the pot when an employee of a Portage County Ford dealership discovered a package of compressed pot concealed in the spare tire compartment while inspecting a new Ford Fusion.

Agents traced the car back to a Warren area rail yard, where the car was unloaded from a train, along with fourteen other Fords.

The remaining cars were delivered to other dealerships in Mahoning, Portage, Stark and Columbiana Counties, as well as one in Pennsylvania.

Drug officials say there is no reason to think the dealerships, or even the railway, was the intended recipient of the drugs. They believe it was likely a smuggling operation gone astray.

"It looks to me as if this was a situation where the drug trafficking organization just weren't able to, for what ever reason, retrieve the narcotics before it got there," said Bob Balzano of the DEA.  "It was too many different dealerships, and too many different locations and in many cases the dealerships contacted law enforcement."

Fifteen packages in all were recovered weighing a total of 480 pounds. Each half-moon shaped container of pressed marijuana had been concealed in spare tire compartments in the car's trunks, according to Balzano.

"I haven't seen it in this area, this is the first time I've seen it here," said Balzano. in reference to how the drugs were hidden. Although, he says it isn't uncommon. "We've had incidents in the country where it has taken place in Minnesota and Phoenix and I'm sure several other locations where packages that were wrapped in a similar way were found."

With the cooperation of Ford Motor Company, agents found that the Fusions were manufactured in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, shipped into the U.S. through Arizona and eventually Northeast Ohio by train until they were unloaded in Trumbull County.

Officials says that just because the Ford Fusions came from a factory in Mexico, it doesn't mean that's where the drugs were placed inside the vehicles. 

"It could have been placed in those vehicles at any point from the time it was built, to the time it was put on the transport and any holding stations along the way," said Balzano.

Officials say no arrests have been made but the investigation continues.

"We execute many search warrants and the majority of the investigations we work now are opiate related, cocaine type investigations and in everyone of these, almost everyone of these residents that we execute these search warrants we find marijuana too," said Balzano. "Marijuana doesn't strike me as being quite so benign."

21 News did reach out to one of the Valley dealerships where one of these cars was delivered, the owners did not wish to talk to us about the bizarre situation. 
 

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