Drug bust on I-80 in Mercer County highlights fight against opioid epidemic
Pennsylvania State Police make a major drug bust during a traffic stop along Interstate 80 in Mercer County.
State Police Shield Interdiction officers in Mercer County found 4 kilos, or almost 9 pounds, of fentanyl inside a Ford Focus during a traffic stop last Wednesday afternoon.
The illegal drugs are worth an estimated $600,000. Two male suspects were taken into custody and remain in the Mercer County Jail on $500,000 bond.
The sting on Interstate 80 has been going on for years. In April of 2017, troopers seized heroin worth $18,000. In September of 2021, drugs and pills were seized at a traffic stop and in November that same year, a New York man was stopped along the highway, where officers found 90 pounds of pot.
Ohio troopers say they're working to stop drug smuggling on this notorious stretch of highway.
"It runs from west to east and that is a major traveled route for people wanting to traffick drugs, to haul bulk drugs, to get to areas such as New York, or they may be traveling 80 to get out west," Sgt. Erik Golias said, assistant commander of the Warren Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Golias says the patrol is always looking beyond traffic to stop the illegal drug pipeline along I-80.
Mercer County's District Attorney Peter Acker tells 21 news he wouldn't be surprised if the feds took over the case involving the fentanyl found last week given the large quantity that was discovered.
In 2021 Mercer County saw a record breaking year for drug overdose deaths, with more than 60 deaths reported. The total number was higher than any other within the last few years of the opioid epidemic.
Acker says the levels of fentanyl found last year was astronomical. He says a lot of the marijuana that's brought into Pennsylvania and sold on the streets is illegally grown in California.
Sergeant Golias says all agencies have to team up to stop it.
"Criminal interdiction teams have contacts with PA Shield that we work with hand in hand to make sure we can interdict those drugs before they hit any community throughout this nation," Golias said.