2 big Butler County busts showed the power of federal agencies working with local cops

The way federal and state agencies and local police departments collaborate changed after the terrorism attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and those partnerships led to multiple recent notable arrests in Butler County.

Before the attacks, police departments worked mainly in silos and were reluctant to cross jurisdictions, said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones. But in the nearly 18 years since, agencies have learned the importance of sharing information and manpower in an effort to combat crime more effectively.

“We are all one,” Jones said. “We all work together, and in the end, that’s what matters.”

The area has seen the benefits of this law enforcement collaboration recently.

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Last week, Middletown police, working with local and federal agencies, made multiple arrests of suspects allegedly involved in a drug trafficking organization. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Warren County Drug Task Force were also involved in the operation.

Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said working with federal agencies has changed the “entire dynamic” for the police department regarding drug trafficking.

“Regionalizing is the way of the future,” Muterspaw said. “We don’t care who gets the credit. At the end of the day, all we care about is getting the criminals off the street and making our communities safer.”

Federal indictments were returned for seven suspects and state indictments were returned for four suspects.

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A search warrant was executed at 1905 Sherman Ave., and 330 grams of heroin/fentanyl, 119 grams of methamphetamine, $3,000 cash, two AR-15 rifles and five handguns were found, according to Middletown police.

Later that day, an 18-year-old fugitive wanted for murder in Houston, Texas, is in custody after the Cincinnati-based U.S. Marshals Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team arrested him in Middletown on Tuesday morning.

Juan Carlos Mendez is accused of taking part in a robbery that resulted in the death of a man in Harris County, Texas

The Butler County Undercover Regional Narcotics Task Force last week reported it has made dozens of arrests with cash, guns and drugs seized in the first half of 2019.

BURN has executed 73 search warrants and made 64 arrests resulting in 53 felony indictments, according to the Butler County sheriff’s office. The task force has also seized more than 4,915 grams of methamphetamine, 5,161 grams of cocaine, 919 grams of fentanyl/heroin and 24 firearms. It has also recovered more than $231,000 in cash.

Jones called the amount of items confiscated “shocking.”

The BURN unit, which was started in 2009, is a countywide effort and is made up of the sheriff’s office, adult probation office, and police departments from Oxford, Fairfield, Hamilton and Middletown.

“We are stronger together than we are divided,” Jones said. “An amazing team effort.”

He said there is a motto in Butler County law enforcement: “All pull the rope in the same direction.”

When police departments work together, it sends a message to criminals, Jones said.

“There is no place for them to run and hide,” he said.

Police chiefs throughout the county routinely meet with the BCSO to share information about criminal activity, Jones said. These meetings are beneficial, he said, because drug dealers’ span of operation normally spiderwebs out into multiple jurisdictions.

If Middletown police experience a crime trend, police departments in neighboring cities and townships probably are seeing similar activity, Muterspaw said.

“It affects the whole county,” he said.

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