Sometimes it may seem to law enforcement officials that in the battle against illegal drugs, they are banging their heads against the wall. Arrests are made, drug distribution networks are disrupted - and, sometimes within weeks, more pushers materialize to fill the voids.
But a coordinated strike against illegal drugs last week in Belmont County was very fruitful. It made a real dent in the illegal drug problem.
Law enforcement officers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Belmont County Sheriff's department, county Drug Task Force and municipal police departments in Bellaire, Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville and Shadyside cooperated in the two-day campaign, dubbed "Operation Shield."
Officers involved in the sweep stopped 467 vehicles, resulting in 158 "enforcement actions." Among those were 15 drug cases. Arrests for a variety of other offenses also were made.
During the traffic stops, police seized marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin and prescription narcotics.
Will "Operation Shield" cut off the flow of illegal drugs in Belmont County? Of course not. The problem is too pervasive.
But participating law enforcement agencies did take a substantial bite out of drug crime in the county. And it was important. As Belmont County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Berhalter put it, "That operation was to go after those who are harming our community."
Precisely. Congratulations to all involved - and let's hope they repeat the performance soon.