Feds indict 12 locally in massive federal drug bust

Twelve indicted for allegedly distributing fentanyl and heroin in Middletown and sending the proceeds to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico (Middletown Police)

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKRC) - A dozen people from the Middletown area and Mexico were indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy, drug and money laundering in an investigation that started in California.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio said Donte Holdbrook was running a heroin and fentanyl ring in Middletown and selling drugs that came from the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.

One of the men charged lived in Springdale. The indictment said Raul Trejo was using his house a pickup point for hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money. Neighbors saw several cars outside of the home Tuesday afternoon.

"They were raiding his truck. I didn't really know what was going on. I mean, he's been a great neighbor," Aaron Jones, one of Trejo's neighbors.

Aaron Jones was surprised to find out the cars outside belonged to federal agents. Federal agents said the money from the drug sales in Middletown were being picked up by people at Trejo's home and driven to San Diego where a member of the Sinaloa cartel laundered it and wired it back to Mexico. The Sinaloa cartel was headed by Jaoquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the notorious Mexican drug lord. Guzman's trial is scheduled to start in New York in September.

"If we're going to turn the tide of this opioid epidemic then our enforcement efforts must reach beyond Ohio, beyond even the United States to cartels in Mexico that are the sources of supply," said U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman.

"If we're going to turn the tide of this opioid epidemic then our enforcement efforts must reach beyond Ohio, beyond even the United States to cartels in Mexico that are the sources of supply," said U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman.

Holdbrook and his girlfriend are charged with recruiting people - including an auxillary police officer - to drive drugs and money across the country. The officer had been hired with the village of Seven Mile in Butler County in 2016. But police Chief Bill Back said Thursday Christopher Watkins never showed up to work despite being sworn in as an officer.

"He was recruited because of his knowledge of law enforcement. So yes, that is disturbing and that is a serious detail," Glassman said.

The money from the drug sales was being driven from Middletown and Springdale to San Diego where agents said it was laundered and wired back to Mexico. Middletown police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said the fentanyl Holdbrook sold led to many overdoses in 2017. Then in August 2017, Muterspaw said Jettie and Courtney Bailey were pulled over in Preble County with more than 11 pounds of heroin and fentanyl with a street value of more than $1million. Muterspaw said that seizure led to a decrease in overdoses.

"After that arrest in August, they dropped probably around 50% the first month. The second month it was probably over 60 because it dried up because that's where the fentanyl was coming from," Muterspaw said.

More than 40 people were charged in San Diego, Columbus, Kentucky, Kansas and Washington as part of the investigation. Glassman said his office is working with partners in California in the hope of bringing the cartel members who were indicted to Cincinnati to stand trial.

Investigators witnessed cash pick-ups on Tivoli Lane and at a West Chester Comfort Inn and Suites. Each transaction involved $25,000 to more than $180,000.

  • Jose Chavez-Meraz - Mexico
  • Rolando Chavez-Garcia - Mexico
  • Favrisio Orozco-Meraz Favi - Mexico
  • Raul Trejo Duende - Middletown, Ohio
  • Donte Holdbrook - Middletown, Ohio
  • Mariela Penaloza - Cleveland, Ohio
  • Charleston Quinn - Mason, Ohio
  • Frank Frazier, Jr. - Middletown, Ohio
  • Jesus Diaz Chuy - Ontario, Calif.
  • Jettie Bailey - Middletown, Ohio
  • Christopher Watkins - Trenton, Ohio
  • Courtney Bailey - Middletown, Ohio

Dozens were also indicted in San Diego, Lexington, Ky., Columbus, Ohio, Kansas and Washington.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off

Trending