A man’s erratic driving has led to his indictment on drug charges.
Michael Jeffery Helton, 33, of Lakeview, has been indicted by a Union County Grand Jury. Helton is charged with one count each of trafficking in drugs and possession of heroin. If convicted on both counts, Helton could face as many as 10 years in prison.
Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips said that shortly before 6 p.m., June 1, a driver on U.S. 33 contacted police about another driver.
“The caller simply said the driver was driving erratic,” Phillips said.
Marysville Police Officer Jon Murray responded and noticed the man changing lanes rapidly, changing speeds, and crossing lane lines erratically. The officer pulled the man over.
“From that point, there were some issues with the plates, with the license, some other indicators that raised a flag,” Phillips said. “Officers are trained to be attentive and to notice certain things that might be indicators of drug abuse.”
Phillips said those indicators led Murray to call for a drug-sniffing dog. The dog indicated the presence of drugs. Phillips said that once the dog alerts the officer, the officer has probable cause to search the car.
According to court documents, Murray found 71 doses of heroin in the man’s boot.
“That, in our mind, is a significant amount of heroin,” Phillips said.
Phillips credited both the observant citizen and the officer.
“The officer did a good job of taking what looked, initially, like a simple traffic stop and recognizing there was more to it,” Phillips said.
The prosecutor urged the public to help be the eyes of the police.
“We encourage people to be observant,” Phillips said. “This is a citizen who saw something and called in. U.S. 33 is a sort of pipeline for trafficking heroin and if people see something that doesn’t seem right, they should call it in.”
Phillips said his office submitted the suspected heroin to the Ohio Bureau of Investigation and Identification (BCI).
“We just got the labs back from BCI,” Phillips said
He said that’s why the June case is being indicted in October.
“I can’t criticize BCI. They have a lot to do for everyone around the state,” Phillips said. “But it would be nice to get some of these results back as soon as possible.”
He said it is important to take, not only Helton, but anyone who has, “significant amounts like that, off the street sooner rather than later.”
“They are inflicting a lot of damage on the community and they are dangerous to have in the community,” Phillips said.
Also indicted was:
– Austin Ball, 21, whose court-listed address is the Tri-County Regional Jail. Ball is charged with one count of aggravated possession of drugs. Court documents allege that on April 21, Ball was arrested with morphine, codeine and 6-Monoacetylmorphine (6-MAM).
If convicted, ball could face as many as 18 months in prison.
– Cara D. Williams, 26, of 17644 Cradler Turner Road. Williams is charged with one count of aggravated vehicular assault and two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse or a combination of them. According to court documents, on April 23, Williams was allegedly under the influence and crashed her vehicle, injuring a child in the car.
If convicted on all counts, Williams could face more than five years in prison.
– Robert Lara, 37, whose court-listed address is the Tri-County Regional Jail. Lara is charged with one count each of aggravated possession of drugs, carrying a concealed weapon and possessing drug abuse instruments. According to court documents, Lara was arrested Oct. 10, with methamphetamines.
If convicted on all counts, Lara could face more than 18 months in prison.
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