Huron County Chief Deputy Bob Sutherland grunted as he used a crow bar to open one of the wooden crates.
Sutherland and Deputy Randy Chase were opening four crates, about 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide, in the sheriff's office garage just hours after a U.S. 250 traffic stop Thursday afternoon north of Milan. In the reinforced crates were eight large packages of marijuana, wrapped in several layers of plastic.
"There have been two (bundles) in each of them," Chase said while unloading.
"Here's a big turkey here," Sutherland said, pulling one package out of a crate.
Authorities estimated the dope itself weighs between 250 and 300 pounds. Officers also seized five cell phones and about $300 in cash during the traffic stop.
Capt. Bob McLaughlin said the drugs were sent from Phoenix.
"We received a search warrant from (Norwalk Municipal Court) Judge John Ridge based on the indication from a canine there was a controlled substance in there, also based on ... information from Toledo," he explained.
Three Toledo men were arrested as a result of the drug bust: Marcos Jacos Jr., 34; Carlos C. Torres, 30; and John E. Nunley Jr., 35. Each were charged with trafficking in marijuana, a fifth-degree felony, punishable by six months to one year in prison.
The following agencies were involved in the arrests: the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation (BCI&I), and Immigration Custom Enforcement. Also participating were the Huron County Sheriff's Office, Norwalk Police Department and the drug units from the Sandusky Police Department and Ottawa County.
About 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Phoenix Police Department called Norwalk Police Detective Sgt. Jim Fulton, saying they had "run a dog around the crate ... and hit on it." Fulton said the officers then gave him the shipping information.
"They (the suspects) left there Monday night ... from Arizona," he said.
"Jim referred the Phoenix officers to me because it was in the county," McLaughlin said.
Prior to the traffic stop, McLaughlin and Fulton rode in McLaughlin's undercover vehicle while following a tan Dodge Durango with temporary license plates heading north on U.S. 250. McLaughlin said the Durango driver was following a black Chevrolet pickup truck with Lucas County plates, driven by Nunley's brother, who was not charged Thursday.
DEA and BCI&I agents stopped the pickup truck, which had the wooden crates in the bed.
"Because we were in Erie County, we contacted the Erie County Sheriff's Office and they provided a place to conduct an interview," McLaughlin said, referring to the Milan Township fire station.
Deputies later brought both vehicles back to Huron County, where they began the unloading and inventorying process. All three suspects were taken to the Huron County Jail to await bond hearings.
McLaughlin expects the investigation to net additional arrests.