Police say it’s not just in the inner city where drug deals are taking place – it’s communities like Dublin, Hilliard and New Albany.
Beth Rores moved to Lewis Center eight years ago.
“I came from the Northeast. This is a lovely place to raise kids, community friendly, good schools,” said Rores.
They found the perfect home just off of Powell Road in a quiet, suburban neighborhood.
Rores now heads up the block watch, and she hears the usual complaints about high school parties or a speeding cars. But when she heard about a major drug bust in her neighborhood, she was shocked.
“Why is there a SWAT team? There was a mention of helicopters and all sorts of things,” she said.
On the normally peaceful street, the bust drew a lot of attention.
“It's on a main road that many of our residents use to access another main road.”
After investigating a drug operation at Ozone Motor Group, Delaware and Franklin county authorities tied it to the dealer's residence in the Lewis Center neighborhood.
Inside the home, they discovered half a dozen hidden assault rifles and thousands of dollars in cash and drugs.
“We found a lot of guns, 35 pounds of marijuana, a pound of crystal meth,” said an undercover deputy who was on the scene. They also found luggage and other drug packing bags used to move narcotics and money in and out of the home.
“We see that very often, you'll see larger amounts stored with money in their family house, and then they'll take smaller parts of that in this case a car dealership and move it,” he added.
It's called a stash house, a place usually in the suburbs that serves as the heart of the drug operation.
“It's an every week occurrence; we're not always down in the inner city neighborhood. More frequently, you'll see marijuana drug operations in suburbs like this,” adds the officer.
It's not just Lewis Center. In the last year, stash house busts have happened in just about every Columbus suburb. 10TV was there during a drug arrest made at a Hilliard home in last month.
In Blacklick, authorities busted a drug operation at a $200,000 in a neighborhood full of kids, with the bus stop right in front of the home. Surveillance video showed the deal going down. A car pulled up and a quick exchange happens and then another. It’s a drug deal with a man driving a rental car with out of state plates.
Other busts have happened in Grove City - where officers found cocaine, assault rifles and $130,000 in cash. It’s also in Obetz, where officers busted a drug dealer who had heroin, a major marijuana grow operation, 27 rifles, along with assault rifles and handguns. In Galloway, authorities found thousands of pills and assault rifles.
Sheriff Zach Scott says the trend of setting up shop in the suburbs is especially popular with heroin dealers.
“They feel safer in the suburbs. They don't feel like they'll get robbed, they feel like the clients have more money. So, they feel safer about what they're doing,” added Sheriff Zach Scott.
The danger comes if a drug deal goes wrong.
“If someone has a large amount of drugs and firearms in their house, means they're more likely to use a firearm in the neighborhood. Maybe there's rounds exchanged, rounds will go through a house very quickly. So, you can subject the whole neighborhood with rounds going through their homes.”
Sheriff Scott says watchful neighbors play a big role in catching these suburban criminals - and as the block watch mom knows, reporting suspicious activity to police isn't an option, it's her duty.
“Most people are nervous they're going to be dragged into something, or they're going to be at fault. That's not the case. What I've learned is they need your help, and they can't be everywhere. They look for people like us or are home or seeing things to be proactive and say something,” said Rores.
The sheriff says neighbors should watch for short visits made by random cars, the house might also have a lot of security like security cameras and burglar bars, and the person who lives there may drive rental cars. The person may also leave for "work" early and come back quickly-making back and worth visits, so they're not working 8 hours a day. Under cover agents say it might also take the person a little longer to answer the door, because they're taking safety precautions inside.
Published by 10tv.com