Charges pending after road sign leads investigators to Trumbull pot-growing operation

Staff report


A state Route 87 man’s insistence that road crews not mow cattails in the ditch in front of his house has led to potential criminal charges after police found a marijuana-growing operation.

The Ohio Department of Transportation was confronted by signs in front of the home at 2160 Route 87 just west of the state Route 45 intersection Tuesday morning that threatened anyone who would cut down the vegetation.

“Mow ditches, get stitches,” is the way the homeowner worded it on a sign by the mailbox.

That led ODOT workers to contact the Ohio State Highway Patrol to assist while ODOT carried out its work.

But when the highway patrol approached the home to discuss the situation with the property owner, troopers smelled marijuana coming from inside.

They also spotted an outdoor pot-growing operation near the house. After obtaining a search warrant from Newton Falls Municipal Court, investigators with the Trumbull Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force recovered 29 marijuana plants inside the house and 19 plants outside, plus weapons, containers of pot, $9,800 in cash and other items.

The pot will be dried and weighed before charges are filed. Sydney Gwinn, 66, lives at the home, a TAG news release says.

Tony Villanueva, TAG commander, said this was a relatively minor drug operation, but it was a good example of how various agencies can work together to battle drug crimes.

In this case, ODOT and the highway patrol, including a special response team, a drone from Mahoning County, a judge and TAG all combined their efforts, Villanueva said.

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