PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini and Interim Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware sat side-by-side at a table covered with black tar heroin, oxycodone tablets, cash and a loaded handgun, seized during an operation around 8:30 p.m. Monday.
“Members of the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force, which is made up of officers from the sheriff’s office, the police department and the FBI, culminated an investigation into the illegal drug trafficking of black tar heroin in Scioto County and Portsmouth, Ohio,” Ware said. “As a result of the investigation, they executed a traffic stop on Arthur Adkins and Jess Fleming, in the 5100 block of U.S. 23, which is in Clay Township. Detectives located heroin on both subjects. The field weight of the heroin was 153.4 grams, with an estimated street value of $20,000. Detectives also seized the 2001 Cadillac and $200 in U.S. currency. This is the largest seizure of black tar heroin in Scioto County history.”
Ware said the continuation of the investigation resulted in the execution of a search warrant at the residence of Paul D. (David) Elrod and Dorothy Stone, at 1706 Valley St. in the North Moreland area of Portsmouth. There, detectives seized 360 milligrams of Oxycodone tablets, a small amount of heroin, $2,260 in cash and a loaded handgun.
“Detectives believe the heroin from the traffic stop was bound for Elrod’s residence,” Ware said. “Additional cases are expected when the case is presented to the Scioto County grand jury. It’s also expected that additional people will be charged as a result of this investigation.”
Adkins, 41, of 450 Hilock Ave., Columbus, is charged with trafficking in heroin and possession of heroin, both first degree felonies, and was placed in the Scioto County Jail under a $300,000 bond.
Fleming, 22, of 244 Shady Ln., Vinton, Ohio faces identical charges and is in the Scioto County Jail under a bond of $20,000.
Elrod, 58, and Stone, also 30, of the Valley Street address are charged with fifth degree felonies, possession of heroin and possession of Oxycodone. Elrod was placed in the Scioto County Jail under a $400,000 bond and Stone’s bond was set at $6,000.
Both Donini and Ware had high praise for the officers they say deal with the drug problem on a daily basis.
“In the fall of 2011, we received a HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) designation by the federal government,” Ware said. “That allowed us to work with the local assets and those in between to try to tackle the problems that we have here in Portsmouth and Scioto County. Obviously, with a county our size, what is happening in the county is happening in the city and vice versa. So it only makes sense that we work together, combine those efforts and tackle this problem.”
Donini said the black tar heroin trend is correlated with the shutting down of area pain clinics.
“The black tar heroin is something that we’re starting to see more and more of as the result of the pain clinics these detectives have finally gotten closed,” Donini said. “Just recently we read in the media where Mr. (Marshall) Adkins (operator of a Wheelersburg pain clinic) pled out to several counts. But as a direct result of these pain clinics, we’re still seeing the Oxycontin and the Oxycodone, but we’re also seeing a lot more heroin according to the detectives. I’d say this is just the beginning, and we’re going to continue to see that. And this is probably what we’re going to have to focus our attention on. But I think these detectives are doing a great job. And I think a lot of that does have to do with the HIDTA, because now they are pretty well unrestricted when it comes to overtime. Prior to that designation we didn’t have the funding to allow them to work a whole lot of overtime. But now they know they can stay out until the case is resolved.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org