Two arrested on drug charges, more than $11,000, loaded firearm seized
CLEAR FORK VALLEY — Bellville police on Thursday performed anything but a routine traffic stop. After pulling over a truck on State Route 97 West, near Interstate 71, officers uncovered a significant amount of suspected drugs, more than $11,000 in cash and a loaded firearm.
Officer Thomas Queen of the Bellville Police Department stopped a 1997 Ford F-150 being driven by Robert Wheeler, 47, of Mount Vernon. According to police, the officer detected an odor of what he believed to be marijuana coming from the vehicle. He asked the driver about the odor and if there was anything in the vehicle that he should be aware of. The driver said there was a gun in the vehicle at which time Wheeler and a passenger, Amanda Higgs, 24, also of Mount Vernon, were secured for officer safety.
An inventory of the vehicle uncovered the reported firearm. It was loaded.
Also seized were several bags of suspected heroin, crystal meth, black tar heroin and more than $11,000. The vehicle was impounded for further investigation.
Wheeler was charged with drug trafficking, driving under suspension and possession of drug abuse instruments. Higgs was charged with drug trafficking and possession of drug abuse instruments.
Both were transported to the Richland County Jail in Mansfield. The Richland County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the site of the traffic stop.
Additional charges are possible pending review of the case by the Richland County Prosecutor’s office.
Bellville Police Chief Ron Willey said the department has made some drug seizures in the past that were “close,” but this was probably “one of the higher ones.”
He also said it “puts an exclamation point on it pretty quickly” when people talk about the importance of increased police surveillance in the Valley.
He said “hopefully getting that amount of stuf
f off the street” will be helpful.
But Willey also said Thursday’s arrest and seizure was just a “small piece of the puzzle.”
The two arrested are from Mount Vernon, and a traffic route to get there goes through Bellville.
Willey said these two were “not from Cleveland or Columbus.”
He said a person “never knows.” If you “catch one, probably five get by,” Willey said.