Three men are facing felony drug charges after state Highway Patrol troopers seized 353 pounds of hydroponic marijuana, worth an estimated $1,588,500, following a traffic stop on the Ohio Turnpike in Erie County.
Troopers with the Milan post stopped a 2012 Dodge 2500 pick-up truck, with Washington registration, for a following-too-closely violation on Interstate 80, near milepost 121, at 9:03 a.m. today.
Troopers detected the odor of raw marijuana and a probable cause search of the vehicle revealed eight large duffle bags containing the 353 pounds of hydroponic marijuana.
Thomas J. Whitlow, 30, of Minneapolis, Kenneth C. Coffin, 54, and Lucas D. Franz, 33, both of Seattle, were incarcerated in the Erie County Jail and charged with drug trafficking and possession of drugs, both second-degree felonies.
If convicted, each could face up to 16 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine.
Drug violations are up significantly this year in Ohio this year, troopers said. Through Dec. 10, the Patrol has made 1,423 more drug arrests than during the same time period in 2010.