818 truckers are stopped for drug, alcohol checks Five charged. Many more are cited for technical violations.

March 18, 1992|By Roger Twigg and Joe Nawrozki | Roger Twigg and Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writer

Federal transportation agents and Maryland State Police last night and early today conducted a 12-hour sweep of the state, looking for truckers transporting illegal drugs or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Although only two minor drug charges and three driving-while-intoxicated arrests were logged, a state police spokesman praised the operation.

"It was successful," said Capt. Johnny Hughes, the state police public information officer.

"We do these things periodically and they act as a deterrent," Captain Hughes said.

The highly publicized operation involved more than 200 state police officers and agents from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The crackdown was dubbed "Operation Nite Sniff" because approximately 20 drug-sniffing dogs took part in it. Agents and police started the operation at 7 p.m. and concluded at 7 a.m. today.

Captain Hughes said 818 trucks and their drivers were inspected during the sweep.

He said that of the drug arrests, one was for a driver being in possession of 6.3 grams of marijuana in Frederick County. The spokesman said he didn't know the details of the other drug arrest and could not say if any major narcotics shipments were intercepted -- the operation's expressed intent.

He said drunken-driving charges were filed against three drivers and two more were cited for having alcohol in their rigs.

Captain Hughes said 54 tractor-trailers were taken out of service because of driver deficiencies. Those included shoddy record-keeping in logs, where details such as hours driven are required to be kept under an Interstate Commerce Commission regulation, he said.

Some 75 drivers were cited for having overweight vehicles.

"We also picked up four drivers who were operating their vehicles on suspended licenses," Captain Hughes said.

Enforcement occurred in all 23 counties and the city, primarily at truck weighing stations that normally are closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

"Our focus is drugs, but we will take action on any other contraband we spot," said Capt. Ray D. Cotton, commander of the State Police Vehicle Enforcement Division, as the action got under way.

"We hope we don't find any drugs or contraband. But we aren't naive [enough] to think it's not going on," he said.

Captain Cotton said the drug enforcement was timed to surprise truckers who might expect to find the weighing stations closed.

"If someone is going to move drugs, that's when you might expect them to do it," he said.

On Nov. 7, state police conducted a similar eight-hour enforcement effort that resulted in two drug arrests, numerous drunken-driving citations and scores of safety violations.

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