MARIETTA - The Major Crimes Task Force aided in the arrest of three area residents in connection with illegal drugs in the past few days, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Larry Mincks said the use of methamphetamines and heroin are on the rise in the Mid-Ohio Valley and his office has seen an increase in both drugs in connection with arrests.
The first of the three recent arrests was on Jan. 23, when Kyle L. Sparks, 24, 830 Ridge St., Marietta, was arrested on a charge of violating the terms of his parole. Following the execution of a search warrant of his home, Sparks was subsequently charged with a fifth-degree felony offense of possession of drugs. This felony charge stems from the alleged discovery of five unit doses of powder heroin in a heating duct of Sparks' home.
"Sparks has a history of arrests in connection with drugs," said Mincks. "He has been arrested six times for breaking and entering to feed his drug habit and this is just the latest arrest for him."
Sparks previously served a 12-month prison term for trafficking in drugs.
Sparks remains in the Washington County Jail on $5,000 bond and is under investigation on other heroin-related charges, Mincks said.
In Wood County, authorities are investigating five recent heroin overdoses in recent weeks.
"We have overdoses under investigation, as well," Mincks said. "Whatever is going on on one side of the river is going on on both sides; officials on both sides are fighting the same battle."
The other two drug arrests involved a husband and wife based out of Morgan County who were charged with manufacturing methamphetamines by the McConnelsville Police and Morgan County Sheriff's Office with the aid of the Major Crimes Task Force.
Heather Greeno, 26, of 659 Halcyon Ave., McConnelsville, is being held at the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail on a charge of the illegal manufacture of drugs.
Herbert Mullins, 56, of 5400 Mountville Road, Chesterhill, was arrested on one count of illegal manufacture of drugs and two counts of unlawful purchase of pseudophedrine. Mullins remains in custody at the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail. Mullins and Greeno are married.
Their arrests came following the execution of a search warrant at Greeno's McConnelsville residence, which stemmed from a traffic stop, officials said. The warrant resulted in the discovery of drug paraphernalia and a consentual search of Greeno's residence at 5400 Mountville Road in Chesterhill, officials said.
This search yielded numerous items used in the manufacturing of methamphetamines, officials said.
While being questioned, Greeno allegedly admitted to using the "one pot" method of methamphetamine manufacturing earlier that day for her and Mullins.
"This new 'one pot' cooking method for meth has really changed the concept of what meth labs are," Mincks said. "Manufacturing meth used to be several processes and now people are doing it in one and that has really made us step up our game."
Because making the drug has become easier, Mincks said, the number of arrests for manufacturing has increased since the beginning of the year.
"Since Jan. 1, we have busted 15 or 16 meth labs and that is a real spike," he said. "I don't think we had that many meth labs in the last two years."
The Major Crimes Task Force is composed of representatives from the Marietta Police Department, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification and the Morgan and Washington County Prosecuting Attorney and Sheriff's Offices.
"We are experiencing a huge increase in the use of both meth and heroin in the area and we are working diligently to get to the bottom of it and stop it," Mincks said. "Since I took office in 2005, taking control of the drugs issue in the area has been a major concern of mine and it continues to be."