Friday, July 14, 2017
The head of the Youngstown Federal Drug Enforcement Administration says a recent marijuana-smuggling operation with ties to Warren is the first of its kind he has seen in this area.
In fact, said Bob Balzano, who runs the local DEA office, the only time he has heard of the method being deployed was in April, when a similar discovery was made in Minnesota.
The marijuana was found last week inside the wheel well for a spare tire in a new Ford Fusion which was manufactured in Sonora, Mexico, at a Ford dealership in Kent, after one of the vehicles was unloaded from a car carrier, Balzano said.
Investigators were then able to find 14 more packages of marijuana in other Fusions, which all came through a rail yard in Warren.
All together, about 14.5 per kilos per car, or 400 pounds of marijuana, was found. It has a street value between $400,000 to $1 million.
The Portage County Sheriff’s Office is also investigating, along with the DEA.
"We're aware of the situation and are taking it very seriously," said Kelli Felker, Ford's communication manager for manufacturing & labor. "We are working with the FBI and Customs on an extensive investigation. We have confirmed that this is not happening at our plant or at our internal shipping yards."