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10 Ironton drug busts reported in traffic stops

From March 4-18, the Ironton Police Department had 10 major drug busts during traffic stops.

“We do traffic stops all the time,” said IPD Chief Pam Wagner. “These were stops where we got a major amount of drugs and drug paraphernalia out of them. Officers are working hard and we want to get this stuff off the streets.”

Wagner said that 10 cases in two weeks were about average and that the department had 403 drug cases in 2017, more than one a day, everyday.

“I’d like to say it is above average, but it’s not,” she said. “Our opioid epidemic in this area is not slowing down at all. Or if it is, we are not noticing it. Our officers are tied up on this all the time, it is 85-90 of our time.”

Last year, the department’s drug unit had 32 drug cases go to court, with three cases pending, 11 guilty pleas and the other 18 cases were plead out. The department seized $5,500 in forfeited money and has $11,201 pending the outcome of cases. Those were all cases where the drug unit bought drugs from a person.

“They have been working really hard,” Wagner said. “We are probably the only city our size that doesn’t have a dedicated drug unit, because we just don’t have the manpower. We desperately need one.”

The drug cases were on top of other routine police activities including the department answering 11,174 calls, towed 297 vehicles, did 681 incident reports, 253 crash reports, and arrested 973 people. 204 people were arrested on warrants. There were 407 traffic citations.

Wagner said that their drug K-9, Goose, has been a big help in the drug fight.

“He has done really well for us, he has been a tremendous asset,” she said.

The recent drug arrests made during traffic stops include:

• On March 4, a car was pulled over for failing to use a turn signal by Officer Kersten Harris. The driver, Christopher Ervin, was arrested after drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine were found in his wallet. The passenger, Ashley Rhodes, was found with drug paraphernalia and nine baggies containing methamphetamine.

• On March 4, a tan PT Cruiser was pulled over for a broken taillight. A passenger Cheyenne Belville, 28, Ironton, was arrested after admitting that she had black baggie of drugs, which was 1.32 grams of methamphetamine. She was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and tampering with evidence.

• On March 8, Billy J. McGhee, 27, Ironton, was stopped for not having a front license plate on his Ford Fusion by Officer Paul Breeding. Brian Pauley and K-9 Goose arrived on the scene and the dog alerted to a couple of spots in the car. A marijuana roach and several seeds were found in the ashtray and in the glove box, officers found a blue pill container which had a baggie with a crystal material that field tested positive for methamphetamine. McGhee was arrested and charged with possession of a Schedule II drug.

• On March 9, Benjamin S. Hughes, 43, was approached by officers because he had a felony warrant. Hughes was pursued into a residence and found hiding in back bedroom. During a patdown, officers found a silver pill container with 10 small pills marked M20, which is amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. While he was being processed the jail, officers found five pills marked AN415, a generic version of Suboxone. He was charged with possession of Schedule II drug and possession of Schedule III drug.

• On March 9, a Mazda was stopped after the license plate on it came back to a Pontiac. The driver of the car, Misty G. Boyer, 34, Ironton, was told that the car was going to be impounded due to fictitious plates and, when the officer Breeding was inventorying the car, he came across a bag with a silver container with bags of methamphetamine and 14 generic Xanax pills. Also found in the car was a set of scales for weighing, a butane lighter, a glass pipe, $252 in cash and a notebook with drug information. She was charged with trafficking in drugs Schedule I or II.

•  On March 14, Roy Bentley, was arrested on the east ramp of U.S. 52 after the IPD got a call from Russell Police Department that Bentley was reported for injecting himself with narcotics. Sgt. Pauley ran K-9 Goose around the Honda Civic and he alerted to narcotics on the driver’s side. The officer found a bottle labeled “BNC Labs Tren Ace,” which appeared to be trenbelone acetate, an anabolic steroid and unused needles. Bentley was arrested and charged with possession of a Schedule III drug.

• On March 17, Kimberly Strunk, 41, Ironton, was arrested during a traffic stop for having, a piece of folded aluminum containing heroin, two separate baggies which contained 1.53 grams of heroin, which were bagged for sale, and three baggies containing residue. Officers found a ledger book that showing she had started the day with five grams of heroin and how much she sold. Taken into evidence was $343 in cash. She was arrested and charged with trafficking in drugs Schedule I or II.

• On March 18, Around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, a call was made about a vehicle driving erratically. Officer Harris and Sgt. Pauley, with K-9 Goose, initiated a traffic stop in the 600 block of Walnut Street. Officers found out the driver of the silver 2003 Trailblazer, Misty Robinson, had her license suspended and the passenger, Mitchell Robinson, did not have a valid driver’s license. Goose alerted the officers to the scent of drugs in the vehicle. The officers saw small baggies with drug residue around the driver’s seat and door. So they continued the search and found a suitcase in the backseat that Mitchell Robinson claimed as his. Inside the suitcase was a syringe that field-tested positive for methamphetamine and 10 bags of crystal methamphetamine that weighed a total of 38.51 grams, which had a street value of $12,000.