INITIAL REPORT (June 28)
The drug seizure announced June 12 by Ohio’s attorney general and a local sheriff as $3.4 million worth of “pure fentanyl” actually was cocaine, according to federal court documents.
Four defendants were indicted Tuesday in Dayton’s U.S. District Court on conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine. One defendant also was charged with trying to transport about $100,000 of drug proceeds back to Mexico.
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All four were arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty. The conspiracy count carries a prison sentence of 10 years to life and up to a $10 million fine. A telephone pretrial conference is scheduled for next week.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer held a press conference earlier this month and announced the fentanyl seized in Clark County by the Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force was enough to kill “every man, woman and child in the Miami Valley,” according to DeWine.
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A spokeswoman for DeWine’s office said Thursday that she “was not aware” that the indictment was for cocaine and that she would inquire about the situation. Later, she told this news organization DeWine would defer to local law enforcement.
The criminal complaint stated that one of nine brick-shaped packages “was probed producing a white powdery substance” that “field-tested positive for the presence of fentanyl.”
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Plummer said Thursday the substance hadn’t been lab-tested before the press conference, which included a full-color cardboard sign with “Fentanyl Arrests” and the defendants’ four mug shots and the drugs and money displayed on a table.
“The detective opened one up and he said it was pure fentanyl,” said Plummer, who said he would check with the detective about the process. “They didn’t open up all of them. It wasn’t tested. So he assumed it was all fentanyl.”
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A message seeking comment was left with a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The complaint detailed surveillance that led to the arrest of Reyes Espinosa-Aguilar, 43, of New Carlisle plus Omar Alejandro Cantu-Garcia, 28, David Guillermo Cantu-Garcia, 30 and Pedro Medina, 40, all of Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
All were indicted on the conspiracy charge while Espinosa-Aguilar, aka Rodrigo Martinez Jr., also faces the drug proceeds transporting charge.
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