OSP troopers seize 2,330 pounds of pot on I-70

Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers made what they said is their second-largest recorded marijuana seizure during a traffic stop on I-70, June 14, 2014. (Photo: OSP)

LEWISBURG, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers made what they said is their second-largest recorded marijuana seizure during a recent traffic stop.

Troopers stopped a 2014 Ford U-Haul with Arizona plates for a following too closely violation on Interstate 70 in Preble County on June 14.

They said criminal indicators were observed and they called for a Preble County Sheriff’s Office drug-sniffing K-9. The dog alerted to the vehicle and a probable cause search found 84 bundles of marijuana, weighing 2,330 pounds. Troopers valued the drugs at $11.6 million.

The driver, Mario Arnold Mendoza, 29, of Port Arther, Texas, and passenger, Hector Andres Olea-Castro, 30, from Tijuana, Mexico were incarcerated in the Preble County Jail and charged with possession of marijuana.

The largest seizure occurred in 2005 when troopers seized 3,181 pounds of marijuana in Preble County.

2 NEWS asked Lt. Jon Payer about why Preble County being the spot to get busted for pot. He told us  first and foremost there’s a dedicated and nationally recognized drug interdiction team in that area.
After that, it’s all about the highways. They say 1-70 pretty much runs the span of the country so going through Ohio is inevitable and Preble County just happens to be closer to the state border.

They also said the rural nature of that area helps police.

“It’s amazing to me how much is out there traveling across our interstates on a daily basis,” said Lt. Payer.

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