Operation BRIDGE brings agencies together to fight drug problem


Local law enforcement were involved in two major operations this week, which ended with seven people seeking treatment through resources offered as a part of Operation BRIDGE.

Operation BRIDGE is a collaborative effort with various parts of law enforcement and community resources, including rehabilitation programs and other government agencies. The groups act in a blitz fashion, serving search and arrest warrants for suspected drug traffickers, making arrests, but also offering a hand up to those who suffer with substance abuse disorder or are low-level offenders.

In addition to the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, also involved during this week’s action were the State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Public Service, as well as local businesses and government -agencies. The combined effort is aimed at stopping the flow of narcotics into the area that has made crime increase and that has stolen a generation of Scioto County’s parents from their children.

“The goal is just for a couple of days to really put a lot of resources into stopping drug traffickers while helping people with substance abuse disorder,” said Carol Morgan, public information officer for the ODPS. “The overall goal is to save lives.”

Organizations involved in BRIDGE offer free narcan and hygiene kits to those who become involved with law enforcement as a result of addiction. They also offer resources for help in stopping the individual’s own cycle of addiction.

Scioto County Sheriff David Thoroughman said the Scioto County operation involved multiple law enforcement organizations and community partnerships.

“This year, the operation has done better in the recovery of drugs,” Thoroughman said. “We want to stop those that are bringing the poison, the narcotics into our community.”

The numbers went up on all the drugs recovered, compared with last year’s operation. This week, BRIDGE has seen the recovery of 88 grams of cocaine, 235 grams of fentanyl, 30 grams of heroin, and 91 grams of crack cocaine. Law enforcement also took in two firearms.

“Which is higher than last year, and also we have served 19 arrest warrants,” Thoroughman said.

Operations like BRIDGE are important in combatting Scioto County’s war on drugs. Multiple children have died in the last year as a result of illegal drugs in their families. The court system is glutted with drug cases and both violent and non-violent offenses which are the direct result of individuals dealing with addiction issues.

“Our deputies see firsthand aily the problem the illegal drugs, narcotics bring into our commumity,” Thoroughman said. “About 90 percent of all arrests the deputies make involve drugs directly or indirectly.”

That’s why agencies are using sweeps like Operation BRIDGE to put a monkey wrench into the workings of trafficking organizations. And it takes collaboration.

“So we partner w the recovery agencies,” Thoroughman said. “It does no good for us to go out and arrest somebody … for them to go back to the same old thing.

“The problem has been hard here within Scioto County. Of course, we are on the map for the opioid crisis,” Thoroughman said. “We have been working hard.”

The work can seem unending given the magnitude of the area’s drug problem.

Over the last year, according to the sheriff, the Southern Ohio Organized and Major Crimes Task Force and the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force served 160 search warrants and impounded 20 pounds of illegal drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, and crack cocaine as those addicted to opioids jump from prescription drugs to illegal ones to “fill that void.”

Meanwhile, kids in the community are dying as a result. Thoroughman cited the infestation of illegal drugs in the area as a clear and present danger to the next generation.

“This year, we’ve lost three of our young children,” he said, including one children who died in an ATV accident alleged to have been caused by an adult’s impairment by substances. “It is hurting our community very deeply.”

While this instance of Operation BRIDGE has ended, the mission continues and local task forces continue to open drug cases. Local law enforcement and partner agencies and businesses work to stop the problem.

“We’ll do anything we can to better our communities,” Thoroughman said. “We love success. We love stopping the traffickers that come here. We are happy about that. We are happy any time we can stop the traffickers in our community.”

Reach Lori McNelly at [email protected] or at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928. © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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