Steve Keller // Associate Editor
What was first described as a "BIG" drug bust in Jackson County turned out to be twice as big as expected. "I told our guys to remember this. It was unbelievable. They would never see something like this in their careers," Jackson County Sheriff John Shasteen told The Telegram Wednesday afternoon on the scene of the bust.
At about 1:30 p.m., members of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, BCI & I, the Jackson Police Department, the Columbus Police Department, officers from the Scioto County Sheriff's Office, and Ohio Organized Crime investigators raided a home at 2370 Jackson Hill Road occupied by Roger Baisden. Officers found what they knew was there and in addition were handed what amounted to a giant Christmas Gift.
According to Shasteen, arrests were made at the scene, but all names have not yet been released and more arrests were still being made later in the afternoon. Shasteen did confirm that Roger Baisden had been arrested. After the Jackson raid, some units left for another location in Vinton County where a search warrant had been requested for property there.
Shasteen told The Telegram officers from the North Carolina State Patrol contacted his office and said police dogs had "hit" on a large suspicious package that was to be delivered to the Jackson Hill Road address. It turned out that the large package was an inflatable castle such as you see at carnivals and festivals which was filled with almost half a ton of marijuana.
Shasteen arranged for an Air National Guard C-130 to fly to North Carolina, pick up the package, take it back to Columbus where it was loaded into a semi and delivered by law enforcement personnel to the residence in what he called a "controlled delivery." Once the package had been accepted by those in the dwelling, the structure was raided.
But the story did not end there.
As the raid was going on, a second semi arrived at the residence with another inflatable to be delivered. "This was unbelievable," Shasteen said. "It was just coincidence that this happened." The second inflatable delivered contained nearly another half-ton of marijuana. He added, "The truck driver was just delivering a package. He didn't know what was in it."
Mike Kelly, Senior Regional FBI Agent based in Portsmouth, said the street value of nearly a ton of marijuana was $4.4 million. While the shipments seemed to originate in Texas, Kelly feels the marijuana probably came from Mexico. Kelly told The Telegram there have been three Task Force Officers in Jackson since about 1999.
Kelly said the Jackson Hill Road location was a transportation operation, not a growing operation. He added that taking nearly a ton of marijuana off the street had affected the local drug operation. Shasteen said the entire event had been made possible through the cooperation with local, state, and federal organizations. "The cooperation has been tremendous," Shasteen told The Telegram. He added this is the biggest drug bust since he has been sheriff.
Shasteen added that the matter, once charges are made, will probably go directly to Federal District Court. Kelly said the charge would probably be Trafficking based on Title 21 of the US Code. In concluding his remarks, Shasteen said, "This was a major drug operation."
This 2008 Ford 150 has 7,000 miles on it and will be confiscated by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. The inflatable shown in the back contains nearly one-half ton of marijuana valued at $2.2 million. During a raid at 2370 Jackson Hill Road Wednesday afternoon a second semi arrived with another inflatable filled with another one- half ton of marijuana. When added together, the street value of the marijuana is $4.4 million. Also to be confiscated may be the home at the location and also a Bobcat used to load the heavy loads into the pickup. (Steve Keller/Telegram)
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