Middletown man sentenced to 25 years for role with Mexican drug cartel

Credit: Middletown Division of Police

Credit: Middletown Division of Police

A Middletown man was sentenced in U.S. District Court on Wednesday to 25 years in prison for his role in an area drug conspiracy tied to a Mexican drug cartel.

Donte Holdbrook, 28, was one of 12 people charged by a Cincinnati federal grand jury in March 2018 in a narcotics and money laundering conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Holdbrook was tied to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel.

Holdbrook’s local drug trafficking organization dealt more than $1 million in fentanyl and heroin in the region. Holdbrook was arrested in late 2016, and the Middletown Division of Police reported that fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses in Middletown fell by approximately a third.

The Middletown drug-trafficking cell led by Holdbrook distributed fentanyl from Mexico in Middletown and sent proceeds back to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. A number of others were charged in San Diego, California, in a related case, according to the U.S. Attorneys office

The investigation started when undercover FBI agents in California learned that a known Sinaloa Cartel money-laundering boss, Jose Lopez-Albarran, coordinated and conducted multiple bulk cash pickups from a drug trafficking organization within the Southern District of Ohio.

Lopez-Albarran was one of 40 defendants charged in the Southern District of California. According to court documents, he and other members of the cartel allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds from the United States to Mexico between 2015 and 2018.

Through the investigation in California, law enforcement discovered multiple drug-trafficking cells throughout the United States, including Middletown.

Holdbrook was found to be in possession of 366 grams of fentanyl during a traffic stop on Dec. 2, 2017, and he arranged for multiple shipments of fentanyl into the Middletown area.

Holdbrook was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black.

Holdbrook, a 2012 Middletown High School graduate, was a member of Middies varsity football, basketball teams. He was a wide receiver and punter on the 2010 and 2011 varsity football teams and played guard for the basketball team.

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