Ex-Middie athlete to plead guilty to federal drug trafficking charges

A former Middletown Middie who caught touchdown passes less than a decade ago is now facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in a federal prison for his part in a heroin and fentanyl drug trafficking organization with ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

Donte Holdbrook, 25, signed an agreement on Aug. 13 to enter a guilty to plea to a single count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin, which was among the charges he was originally indicted on earlier this year.

Holdbrook’s organization, officials say, had ties to the notorious Sinaloa Drug Cartel in Mexico that was led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is in federal custody in New York awaiting trial on multiple charges.

Federal officials said the disruption and dismantling of the organization was part of a year-long multi-state investigation involving local, county, state and federal investigators, including Middletown police. It resulted in the seizure of large quantities of drugs, cash and firearms as well as the indictment of 40 people in California as part of the money laundering operation.

The multi-state investigation extended from Middletown to the West Coast into Mexico and caused the seizure of large quantities of cash, drugs and firearms. The investigation by local, county, state and federal agents took more than a year and also includes the indictments of more than 40 people in California and other areas as part of the alleged money laundering operation.

In the agreement, Holdbrook admitted “that he is, in fact, guilty of this offense and will so advise the court” at his plea hearing in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.

Holdbrook admitted that he and 11 others agreed to possess with intent to distribute substances containing fentanyl (400 or more grams) and heroin (1 kilogram or more).

Jennifer Thornton, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, said that after the court accepts Holdbrook’s plea, he faces a possible sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million.

The plea hearing has not been scheduled for Holdbrook and he remains in custody.

In addition, Holdbrook agreed to the forfeiture of seized property, including $191,414 and two pickup trucks he used in his transactions. Of that amount, more than $9,300 was seized from an Aaron Drive apartment and during a traffic stop on Dec. 2 when he was arrested.

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