Court docs detail ‘drug ring’ case against Middletown man killed in Cincinnati this week

Marqui Conley, 26, of Middletown, is wanted by the Cincinnati FBI.
Marqui Conley, 26, of Middletown, is wanted by the Cincinnati FBI.

A Middletown man who was the subject of a manhunt throughout Butler and Warren counties and beyond for months was killed Monday afternoon in Cincinnati.

Marqui Conley, 26, already had a gunshot wound when he drove a car into a home in the 500 block of Flatt Terrace, according to our news partner WCPO-TV. He was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The incident happened about 12:38 p.m.

Conley had been the subject of an FBI search since May, when federal investigators linked him to a Middletown-based drug ring. Authorities seized a Mercedez Benz from the garage of a home in Springboro, where they also hoped to find Conley, a search warrant affidavit read.

MORE: Warrant: Wanted drug dealer used Warren County storage unit while on the run

Federal court documents used to build a case against suspects allegedly running a “drug ring” say that at least two men with long criminal histories in the Middletown area also were part of a murder-for-hire plot.

Federal indictments were announced against Benwan Edwards, 25, of Miamisburg; Conley (aka “Keyman”); Joseph Lee Singletary Jr. (aka “Joker”); Will Dan Owens V of Middletown; Hailey Perry Meeks of Middletown; and Tyrese Antonio Robinson (aka “Moneybags”).

All are charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Edwards, Owens and Meeks were taken into custody in May, but the U.S. Marshals and local police continued to look for Conley an the others.

According to the federal indictment, a group identifying itself as “ALL STATE” was based in Middletown with a primary source of revenue from storage, production, distribution and transportation of a heroin/fentanyl mixture. From October 2018 to May 6, 2019, the group distributed 400 grams or more of the mixture, investigators said.

“It was part of the conspiracy that the defendants and others used stash houses to store fentanyl mixtures, narcotics processing and package materials and monies obtained through illegal sale of controlled substances … in order to avoid detection,” according U.S. District Court documents.

“As part of the conspiracy (the defendants) used cellular telephones to facilitate their illegal drug business, that they spoke in code or veiled reference to narcotics business while using cellular telephones.”

In federal court documents filed May 2 for the arrest of Edwards and Conley, investigators outlined “hits” to which the duo was allegedly connected.

MORE:”Drug ring’ investigation: How police found a fugitive’s Mercedes that led them to Springboro

Conley and Edwards “provided money on different occasions over the last few years for ‘hits’ to be placed on (four men),” the court document states.

On Jan. 8, Edwards and Conley met with another person, and during the meeting Edwards said, “I got to this level from staying low and getting (expletive) knocked the (expletive) off for stepping in my lane,” according to the court documents.

Two of the people named were shot to death, one was arrested and is in jail and the other was shot but survived.

The suspects purchased, borrowed and rented cars for the illegal business and carried firearms to “intimidate rival drug dealers and to punish anyone who stood in the way of their conspiracy,” according to the indictment.

In the indictment, which is the result of a multi-agency investigation, 44 alleged acts from Oct 14, 2018, to May 6, 2019, are outlined. Most allege drug dealing and collection of money owed to the operation.

In April, an unnamed person told investigators Edwards offered him $60,000 cash to “shoot up” a Middletown police officer’s cruiser as retribution for the officer being involved in numerous traffic stops of vehicles containing “ALL STATE” members, according to the court document.

The indictment also has a provision for forfeiture of property allegedly used in the criminal operation if they are found guilty that includes a 2011 BMW, 2016 Mercedes Benz, 2009 Jaguar and a 2014 Maserati, as well as guns, cash ammunition and cellphones.

In 2011, Conley, then 18, was sentenced to five years in prison for killing a man he intentionally ran down with a car. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 20-year-old TaShawn Smiley as part of a plea deal before a Butler County grand jury could consider a murder charge against him.

MORE: ‘Catch me if you kan!!!!!’: How a drug ring investigation turned into a manhunt in Middletown

Middletown police said Conley was driving a green Chevrolet Malibu when he ran over Smiley, who was riding his bicycle, on June 19, 2010. Conley, then 17, sped away but was arrested later based on evidence taken off the car and charged in January. His case was bound over from county Juvenile Court so he could be tried as an adult.

Anyone with information about Conley’s death should contact Cincinnati homicide investigators at 513-352-3542.