Authorities say more than 400 pounds of marijuana has been found in 15 new cars made in Mexico and shipped to Ohio and Pennsylvania to sell.
A drug task force in Ohio’s Portage County was called to a Ford dealership this week after a service department employee found a package of pressed marijuana in a spare tire compartment during a vehicle inspection.
Police are investigating the shipments of drugs hidden in the wheel compartments of new cars, which were shipped to Lordstown. In all, over 400 pounds of marijuana were seized with a street value of more than $1 million, according to the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators went to a rail yard in Lordstown, near Warren, Ohio and found more packages in the trunks of Ford Fusions pressed into the shape of a spare tire
Additional packages were found at other northeast Ohio dealerships and one in Pennsylvania.
A Drug Enforcement Administration agent tells The Vindicator that marijuana was found in April in new cars shipped from Mexico to Minnesota.
An investigation by the Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Youngstown Drug Enforcement Agency, is now ongoing to determine who put the drugs in the cars.
The drugs were discovered during a delivery inspection after the car was taken off a transport carrier.
The vehicle was shipped to Lordstown Rail Solutions, where investigators found that 15 Ford Fusions with marijuana inside had been distributed to dealership, including some in Columbiana and Mahoning counties. The marijuana was hidden inside packages compressed to resemble a tire.
Each of the ‘Mule’ cars, which were reportedly, manufactured in Mexico and crossed the Mexican border into Arizona on their way to Trumbull County, where they were dropped off at the rail yard, had about 30 pounds of marijuana in it..
Youngstown DEA Agent Bob Balzanov who said this is not uncommon, believes that someone screwed up and was supposed to pick up the drugs before they made their way to area dealerships. Investigators don’t believe the dealerships were involved, and Balzano said those working at the plant in Mexico may not have even been involved.
“We don’t know at what point it was put into the vehicles,” he said.
Ford has a plant in Sonora, Mexico.
The investigation is continuing, and no arrests have been made yet.
Balzano said he believes the case is an important one because marijuana and other drugs — like heroin and fentanyl — often go hand-in-hand.
Earlier this year, drugs were found hidden in cars in Minnesota.