The first indictment in what federal prosecutors called a southwest Ohio-based, Mexican cartel-linked methamphetamine trafficking ring stemmed from a June 2017 traffic stop on Interstate 70 in Preble County.
Dennis Olinger and Hayley Bigelow’s stories didn’t match when an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper stopped the blue Volkswagen Passat for speeding, according to court documents. The car contained 26 pounds of crystal meth with a street value of about $400,000.
Olinger, who didn’t produce a driver’s license, said Bigelow was his girlfriend. Bigelow couldn’t tell the trooper Olinger’s name. Both appeared “overly nervous,” according to a criminal complaint.
RELATED: ‘Armed and dangerous’ fugitive now behind bars after standoff
Federal, state and local officials last Tuesday announced a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation that uncovered 140 pounds of meth — $2.2 million if similar to the traffic stop — and said it led to to seven indictments to go with at least seven previous prosecutions.
This news outlet obtained the list of previous defendants from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Olinger and Bigelow had the oldest case and were linked to another defendant, Waiman Yu.
Olinger, 40, of Dayton, was sentenced in January to 10 years for possessing with intent to distribute more than 500 grams or more of meth. Bigelow, 21, of Springfield, also was sentenced in January. She received four years in prison for interstate travel to promote an unlawful activity.
RELATED: Mexican chemist involved with alleged meth trafficking conspiracy
Yu, 39 of Trotwood, was sentenced in February to five years in prison for possessing with intent to distribute in excess of 100 grams of heroin.
Yu had been driving the Passat before Olinger and Bigelow were caught, according to court documents. A complaint said the DEA used a GPS tracking device on his Hyundai Elantra and found drugs in that car during a traffic stop.
Yu — who was once sentenced to six years for conspiracy to commit murder in Greene County — was suspected of being part of a large drug trafficking organization for nearly 20 years, according to a DEA agent.
RELATED: 26 pounds of crystal meth seized after highway stop
The other older convictions/pleas:
• Richard H. Smith, 32 of Youngstown, was sentenced in April to 9.5 years for conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth. While in state prison, Smith directed Chasity Gillenwater to pick up drugs supplied by Olinger and deliver them to David Crabtree in Pike County to be sold, according to a sentencing memorandum.
• Crabtree, 26 of Piketon, was sentenced in April to 6 2/3 years for the same charge as Smith.
• Gillenwater, 26 of Beaver, was sentenced in April to four years for the same charge as Smith.
• Joshua Kirtley, 34 of Middletown, pleaded guilty June 1 to the same charge as Smith, a much lower charge that he originally faced. Court documents alleged Kirtley was selling meth from his Pearl Street address.
MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi
A complaint said Kirtley admitted to buying $100,000 worth of meth in California that was mailed back to Ohio and moving 40 pounds of meth and $1 million in six months. Kirtley is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 24.
The recently unsealed indictment into the alleged meth ring included the seizure of the 140 pounds of meth, nearly 15.5 pounds of fentanyl, nearly 4.5 pounds of heroin, more than $130,000 in cash and a Bersa 9mm pistol, according to court documents.
Seven defendants were indicted and were led by Salvador “Listo” Ramirez. A DEA agent said last week that the Ramirez group is linked to a “Mexican transnational criminal organization” and is associated with a high-ranking member of a “violent, international gang.”
SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow Mark Gokavi on Twitter or Facebook
DOWNLOAD OUR FREE MOBILE APPS