In a departure from the drug possession misdemeanor charges most commonly handed out to Miami students, Oxford police (OPD) have made drug trafficking arrests in recent weeks that have resulted in felony charges for at least one individual.
The OPD executed four drug-related searches last week, which Sgt. Jim Squance said is an unusually high number.
Squance said police are not necessarily stepping up enforcement in this area, but have recently been provided with information from people they come into contact with daily, which has lead to the execution of more search warrants.
“Our road officers have been aggressive in following up on information they’ve received,” Squance said.
Jan. 30, Oxford police executed a search warrant at 210 W. Collins St. after receiving information that there was illegal drug activity going on in the house, according to Squance. Police have made two arrests in this case with at least two more possible arrests pending.
According to police reports, the search turned up suspected marijuana throughout the house as well as growing apparatuses, publications on how to grow marijuana, two large duffel bags with trace amounts of marijuana present and a box full of plastic sandwich bags containing suspected marijuana.
Miami senior Gregory Bond was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and felony drug trafficking charges are pending for the other occupants of the house. Squance said police are waiting to complete an analysis of computers confiscated during the raid before they decide on exact charges.
The day before, OPD conducted a similar search of apartment 88 at 616 S. College Ave. after receiving information during an unrelated investigation that there were drugs at that address.
That search yielded a plastic bag of suspected marijuana, rolling papers, metal scales and other drug paraphernalia. The apartment’s resident, Miami senior Ebony Gentry, told police that all the drugs belonged to Marquez Fisher, who also lives at that address and is not a Miami student. She was charged with permitting drug abuse in her residence.
Fisher, 21, was arrested at work at D.P. Dough, and was found to be in possession of bag of marijuana, rolling papers and cash. He was charged with two felonies – trafficking in marijuana and possession of criminal tools – as well as possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, which are misdemeanor offenses.
That same day, the residents of apartment 44 at 716 S. College Ave. consented to a search which resulted in Matthew Baier, 23, Jacob Senoff, 21, and Bradley Hunt, 18, being arrested for drug trafficking, aggravated possession of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal tools after 14 small plastic bags containing suspected opium were found on the property.
Miami University Police
Department (MUPD) Lt. Andrew Powers said in the 15 years he’s worked at Miami they usually see one or two drug trafficking cases a year involving students on campus and have even had a few cases of students growing marijuana in their rooms.
He said overall trafficking citations aren’t extremely common, but that this doesn’t mean drug sales aren’t taking place. Powers said the issue is that it is often difficult to identify where students get their drugs.
“Obviously if there are drugs around, somebody’s getting them somewhere,” he said. “If someone has drugs on campus, they probably procured them somewhere nearby.”
According to recent Miami graduate who used to sell marijuana to students, most local dealers buy from individuals who sell larger volumes in other cities, such as Cincinnati. Then, the drugs get disseminated in Oxford in smaller amounts. He also said students don’t generally do business with Oxford residents because the residents fear Miami students giving them up to police if caught with drugs.
“No one in Oxford really grows their own weed,” said the male, who asked not to be named in this story. He added that the most common drugs among students are marijuana, cocaine and less often, mushrooms.
Powers said drug enforcement in Oxford is different than in large cities because in urban areas there are usually specific locations that get a reputation for having drugs, such as street corners or parks.
“I would venture to guess that there aren’t very many geographic locations (in Oxford) that people know have drugs,” Powers said.
The former student agreed that there are not designated spots in Oxford where students can walk up and get drugs.
“You have to meet the people who know the people who have drugs,” he said.
He also said many students who sell drugs in Oxford know each other and can tip each other off about police activity. He said this could be why some of the searches recently have not resulted in arrests.
“If I heard about (a search) I’d drop my weight immediately,” he said.
Powers also said the charge of trafficking itself can be problematic because there are so many different definitions within the Ohio Revised Code of what constitutes trafficking rather than simply possession.
Put simply, Powers said the term trafficking implies that the person was in the process of buying or selling drugs at the time they were arrested.
Powers said MUPD officers don’t generally do undercover operations in which they try to catch somebody actually handing over drugs for sale. Instead, most cases in Oxford involve finding larger amounts of drugs that appear to be intended for sale; for example if the substance is divided up into separate units as was the case with the sandwich bags in the Collins
But Squance said OPD frequently works with other local, drug trafficking.
The former student said catching students who sell drugs is difficult because there are constantly people coming and going from student residences.
“It’s not like they can just bust into your house … as long as you’re not getting noise complaints called on you,” he said.
Since many drugs go by many different names, the Ohio Revised Code lists them by their chemical name and defines how much constitutes a unit, and then how many units need to be present to equal a trafficking charge. The amount varies from drug to drug and some other factors such as the presence of growing or cutting equipment can also signal to police that there is trafficking going on.
“Whenever we get our hands on something more than just a small amount of marijuana we really have to sit down with Ohio Revised Code,” Powers said. “It’s like doing a major organic chemistry project.”