A special task force comprised of area law enforcement officials conducted multiple secret operations the past year that netted nearly $9 million in drugs and cash, officials announced during a press conference Monday morning.
The Bulk Cash Smuggling Task Force, which is part of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s organized crime commission that includes Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies, seized 19 pounds of heroin, 25 pounds of methamphetamine, 51 pounds of cocaine, 1,146 pounds of marijuana and 800 Oxycodone pills valuing $7 million. They also confiscated $1.8 million in cash, DeWine said. The drugs and cash were seized during the past nine months in neighborhoods across the Miami Valley, resulting in 79 arrests.
“If people think it’s only someone living somewhere else; they’re dead wrong,” DeWine said. “Everyone in the Miami Valley, your community has a drug problem.”
The two most recent arrests occurred last week. Task force agents stopped two cars after witnessing two men exchange 33 pounds of cocaine for about $300,000 in cash. Authorities arrested the driver of one vehicle, Cesar Anguiano, 35, on charges of trafficking and possession of drugs. A warrant for the driver of a second vehicle, Gonzalo Anguiano, 24, has been issued after he reportedly ran from investigators during the traffic stop.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Mark Walker, 40, after serving a search warrant at a Dayton home in connection with the investigation. They confiscated an additional 15 pounds of cocaine and about $20,000 in cash, the attorney general said.
The cases will be prosecuted by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Heroin remains the No. 1 issue plaguing Montgomery County, Sheriff Phil Plummer said. Last year, 126 people died from heroin overdoses in Montgomery County. However, surveying the volume and variety of drugs seized, he said he “didn’t think our problem was this large.”
“I’m surprised at the large number of drugs that are coming into our community and the large amount of cash that’s leaving our community,” he said. “But this is money right now that is not going to Mexico, that we’ve diverted.”
Citizen tips help law enforcement track down drug crimes and make arrests, DeWine said, but neighborhoods that start their own grassroots efforts to combat the problem are what really make the difference. The attorney general’s office can offer guidance to any group wanting to take a stand against drug activity.
“Ultimately we cannot arrest our way out of the heroin problem and the drug problem in the state of Ohio,” DeWine said. “We have to have local citizen groups who are there, who are rallying and we say we have had enough.”
The Bulk Cash Smuggling Task Force is comprised of law enforcement officials from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and RANGE Task Force, Warren County Drug Task Force, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Montgomery and Warren County prosecutor’s offices.