November 24, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
46°F

Troopers seize 69 pounds of pot on turnpike

AMHERST TWP. — Two Cali­fornia bounty hunters and an Illinois man are facing felony drug charges after Ohio High­way Patrol troopers seized 69 pounds of marijuana, valued at nearly $350,000, during a traf­fic stop Friday morning on the Ohio Turnpike.

Johnny sits in front of 69 pounds of marijuana he helped Ohio Highway Patrol troopers find during a traffic stop. (OHIO HIGHWAY PATROL PHOTO)

Johnny sits in front of 69 pounds of marijuana he helped Ohio Highway Patrol troopers find during a traffic stop. (OHIO HIGHWAY PATROL PHOTO)

Troopers stopped a 2010 GMC Yukon with Illinois regis­tration for a marked-lanes vio­lation at about 8:40 a.m. Friday. A search of the vehicle turned up 69 pounds of hydroponic marijuana hidden in three large Home Depot boxes, Sgt. Terry Helton of the Ohio High­way Patrol said.

Hydroponic marijuana — a growing method that doesn’t use soil — has a higher street level price because it suppos­edly contains a higher concen­tration of THC, the drug that creates the “high” when using marijuana, Helton said.

The driver, Burim Aliu, 28, of Plainfield, Ill., and passengers, certified bounty hunter Ricky Dang, 25, of West Covina, Calif., and self-proclaimed bounty hunter Tung Kha, 36, of Alham­bra, Calif., were charged with possession of marijuana, a first-degree felony.

“It’s the first bounty hunters that we’ve seen trafficking in marijuana,” Helton said.

The suspects were en route to New York, he said.

All three suspects were incarcerated in the Lorain County Jail on Monday. If con­victed, they could each face up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 329-7144 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.