704 doses of heroin seized

By Jane BeathardStaff Writer

Authorities in Madison County worked on the weekend to identify a Mexican youth arrested Thursday, Dec. 13, driving alone on Interstate 71 with cash and 704 parceled “doses” of heroin in the car.Lt. Eric Semler, chief investigator for the county sheriff’s office, said the youth provided arresting officers with several false names and little else in the way of information. However, Semler believes the boy is from the city of Tepic in West Central Mexico and is probably 16 years old.

The youth, who apparently speaks little English,
was arraigned Friday as a “John Doe” before Juvenile Judge Glenn Hamilton. He remains in custody as the investigation into his background and activities continues.
Local authorities, working in conjunction with other central Ohio law enforcement agencies, received a tip about 3 p.m. Thursday that a Hispanic male, previously involved in a Columbus drug deal, was headed toward Madison County, Semler said.

Fifteen minutes later, deputies stopped a black 2003 Honda Accord in the southbound lane of the interstate between the state Route 56 and Route 38 interchanges.
They confiscated $985 in cash and 704 balls of heroin, each about one-fourth inch in diameter and wrapped in aluminum foil, from the car. The heroin balls were in plastic bags, concealed in a man’s sock and stashed in the Honda’s driver’s side door pocket.

Semler estimated street value of the heroin to be about $10 per ball “dose,” worth about $7,000 in Columbus and twice that amount in Madison County.
It’s not the first time central Ohio law enforcement officers encountered a possible underage drug courier and dealer on the payroll of Mexican “distributors.” Authorities in Delaware County made a similar arrest in recent months, Semler said.

Employing the young to sell drugs has advantages for their bosses. It’s difficult to determine exact ages and home towns — especially when those towns are in a foreign country with sketchy records.
Arrests leave prosecutors with difficult choices on whether to deport the youths or try their cases in local juvenile or adult courts.County prosecutor Steve Pronai said Monday he intends to try the youth in Hamilton’s court. The trafficking charge is a first-degree felony, based on the amount of heroin involved. If convicted, the boy could be sentenced to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until age 21, then deported to Mexico.

A conviction would block the boy from ever legally re-entering the United States, Pronai said.

704 doses of heroin seized | The Madison-Press