Investigators find drugs hidden in cars shipped from Mexico to Lordstown

In all, over 400 pounds of marijuana were seized with a street value of more than $1 million

Photo courtesy of the Portage County Sheriff's Office

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Police are investigating shipments of drugs hidden in the wheel compartments of new cars, which were shipped to Lordstown.

In all, over 400 pounds of marijuana were seized with a street value of more than $1 million, according to the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.

An investigation by the Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Youngstown Drug Enforcement Agency, is now ongoing to determine who put the drugs in the cars.

The drugs were initially found in a wheel compartment of a Ford Fusion at a Ford dealership in Portage County. They were discovered during a delivery inspection after the car was taken off a transport carrier.

The vehicle was shipped to Lordstown Rail Solutions, where investigators found that 15 Ford Fusions with marijuana inside had been distributed to dealerships — including some in Columbiana and Mahoning counties. The marijuana was hidden inside packages compressed to resemble a tire.

According to the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, the cars were manufactured in Mexico and crossed the Mexican border into Arizona on their way to Trumbull County, where they were dropped off at the rail yard.

Youngstown DEA Agent Bob Balzano said this is not uncommon. Earlier this year, drugs were found hidden in cars in Minnesota.

He believes that someone screwed up and was supposed to pick up the drugs before they made their way to area dealerships. Investigators don’t believe the dealerships were involved, and Balzano said those working at the plant in Mexico may not have even been involved.

“We don’t know at what point it was put into the vehicles,” he said.

The investigation is continuing, and no arrests have been made yet.

Balzano said he believes the case is an important one because marijuana and other drugs — like heroin and fentanyl — often go hand-in-hand.