It was called Operation Shield -- a two-day law enforcement saturation in the cities of Euclid and East Cleveland involving local, state and federal authorities. The goal of the operation, which took place this past Thursday and Friday, was to blanket the area with law enforcement in an attempt to combat the number of opiate overdoses in Cuyahoga County.
In two months in 2016, two people died of opiate overdoses every day in Cuyahoga County. A representative from the medical examiner’s office shared statistics with Cleveland 19 that stated the county has set a new record for fentanyl overdose deaths in almost every month of 2016.
There’s been a huge influx of opiate overdoses, so we’re working the area and trying to work criminal interdiction to try to curb the overdoses that are occurring in Cuyahoga County,” said Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Tim Timberlake.
Criminal interdiction refers to law enforcement officials trying to delay, disrupt or destroy the illegal drug trade in Ohio.
Cleveland 19 rode along with the state highway patrol during the operation and witnessed troopers finding criminal indicators during seemingly routine stops, uncovering felony amounts of drugs, and arresting people with active warrants.
“It makes a safer Ohio and safer communities wherever we're at because normally, when we come into the area, all the criminal activity seems to slow down a lot because there's so many officers in the area so it makes it a safer area for the citizens,” said Timberlake.
On traffic stops troopers looked beyond writing a potential traffic ticket for things that didn’t seem to fit. Cleveland 19 asked Timberlake about what he saw during one such routine stop.
“They have some prior arrests, [they were] real nervous. Their story about why they were over here wasn't making sense -- it's a long drive to come over here just to eat lunch,” said Timberlake.
An OSHP K9 alerted troopers to the presence of an illegal drug in the vehicle. A search of the car revealed about $100 worth of heroin.
After questioning, everyone in the vehicle admitted that they were out in the area to buy heroin. Cleveland 19 was told they will all now face charges of felony heroin possession.
Cleveland 19 observed troopers find and confiscate heroin, marijuana and schedule II narcotic pain pills.
Dozens of people were arrested for felonies during the two-day effort and seven guns were taken off the streets.
During the past several years in particular, state highway troopers have placed an increased emphasis on interdiction efforts while on criminal patrol. Here are their final numbers from this weekend:
Operation Shield Weekend Totals
Traffic Stops: 252
Seatbelt Citations: 19
OVI Arrests: 7
Driving under Suspension: 15
Felony Suspects arrested: 24
Felony Drug Cases: 17
Weapons (guns) recovered: 7
Stolen Vehicles recovered: 2
Warrant arrests: 8
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