A multi-agency drug enforcement effort yielded 346 traffic stops and 114 arrests in Marion County, according to the Marion post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

The “saturation patrol” netted nine arrests for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, 16 for driving under suspension, served four people with warrants and started 22 cases, including 16 drug cases and nine felony cases, said Lt. Lance Shearer, Marion post commander.

“I thought it went very well,” Shearer said of the Saturday operation involving about 50 troopers and other law enforcement officers. “We brought together all the different agencies in the county. We all partnered together, focused on reducing criminal activity in Marion County and enforced traffic violations.”

The Marion patrol received help from troopers from other posts, including Ashland, Wooster and Elyria, along with officers of the Marion Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, METRICH-MARMET, Ohio Investigative Unit and Marion Adult Probation Department and three canine units.

“We like to do this at least once a year,” he said. “What it does is it really brings us together as law enforcement agencies, sharing intelligence with each other, helping each other out. When we bring all of our resources together, it makes us more effective …”

Helping to make the larger patrol possible was federal funding through Ohio’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Task Force, he said.

In addition to making arrests during the one-day effort, officers seized 22 grams of marijuana, 4 grams of crack, 11 grams of heroin, 10 prescription pills and 15 items of drug paraphernalia.

“We make a big splash and show those people we’re out there,” he said. “Bring 50 officers to Marion in a 24-hour period, approximately, working all the areas we really can make a difference. The criminal element realizes we’re going to be out there.”

According to an Ohio Department of Health 2014 report, drug overdoses have surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths since 2007. The most recent data shows more than 1,900 people in Ohio died from accidental drug overdose in 2012. Ohio has a rate of five accidental drug overdose deaths every day.

Originally published in the Marion Star on July 1, 2014.