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12 charged in alleged drug ring that operated from Mexico to Middletown

Published: Thursday, March 08, 2018 @ 12:37 PM

Kate middletown

Middletown police special operations officers along with county, state and federal law enforcement agencies announced Thursday the conclusion of a yearlong investigation into a large-scale drug trafficking and money laundering operation that stretched from Middletown throughout Ohio and extended as far as the West Coast.

According to the city officials, the investigation gained ground when, in August 2017, the Middletown Special Operations Division, along with Ohio State Highway Patrol, seized five kilograms, or about 11 pounds, of heroin and fentanyl. The drugs seized that day had a street value of $1.4 million, and the investigation traced the source to drug trafficking by the Sinaloa Drug Cartel in Mexico.

MORE: Fairfield police investigate alleged social media threat about high school

During the entire investigation, which included the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Warren County Drug Task Force, Cincinnati police, the Preble County Prosecutor’s Office and the FBI divisions in Cincinnati, Cleveland and San Diego, large quantities of drugs, money and weapons were seized.

As a result of the federal investigation and seizures, a federal grand jury has charged 12 individuals in a narcotics and money laundering conspiracy in a superseding indictment unsealed in Cincinnati on Thursday. Members of the group allegedly distributed fentanyl from Mexico in Middletown and sent proceeds back to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel in Mexico.

In addition, 40 defendants have been charged in San Diego, and additional defendants have been charged in Columbus, the Eastern District of Kentucky, the District of Kansas and the Eastern District of Washington.

Those charged in the Cincinnati case include:

  • Jose Chavez-Meraz Chema, 55, Mexico
  • Rolando Chavez-Garcia, 24. Mexico
  • Favrisio Orozco-Meraz Favi, aka Gordo and Gordito, 34, Mexico
  • Raul Trejo Duende, 52, Middletown
  • Donte Holdbrook Jay, 24, Middletown
  • Mariela Penaloza, 25, Cleveland
  • Charleston Quinn Buddy, aka Buddy Rowe, 34, Mason
  • Frank Frazier, Jr., 24, Middletown,
  • Jesus Diaz Chuy, Chewey, 47, Ontario, Calif.
  • Jettie Bailey, 23, Middletown
  • Christopher Watkins, 23, Trenton
  • Courtney Bailey 24, Middletown

The superseding indictment details that the Ohio drug trafficking organization primarily conducted fentanyl sales in Middletown and received the narcotics from Mexico via Chavez-Meraz. The drugs would initially enter the United States at locations in California and Arizona, where “drug mules” would then retrieve the drugs for transport to southern Ohio.

When a sizeable amount of drug proceeds had been collected, the co-conspirators would arrange bulk cash transports back to Mexico, officials said. Investigators witnessed at least seven bulk cash pick-ups within the Southern District of Ohio, six on Tivoli Lane in Cincinnati and one at a Comfort Inn and Suites in West Chester. Transactions ranged from $25,000 to more than $180,000.

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Warmer temperatures return this week

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 5:00 AM
Updated: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

A slight chance for rain is there today in the Dayton area.

It’ll be a touch warmer as most of us get in the lower 80s. Partly cloudy skies are expected and while most will stay dry, a stray shower or storm cannot be ruled out, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar. 

>>WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar


  • Slight chance for a stray shower today 
  • Warmer temperatures return this week 
  • Rain returns Tuesday evening and Wednesday

>>Air Show forecast

Tonight: Decreasing clouds are expected overnight as temperatures drop into the lower to middle 60s. 

>>Moon and Jupiter close this weekend

Monday: Mostly sunny skies are expected, highs in the lower 80s.

Tuesday: A dry start is expected with highs in the middle 80s, chance for rain returns in the evening. 

>>Air Show Chance of Podcast

Wednesday: A few showers likely, maybe a few storms as well. Highs will be in the middle 80s. 

Thursday: A hot day expected with partly cloudy skies, highs in the upper 80s.

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Police: Man shot in Dayton, 1 suspect in custody

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 1:30 AM
Updated: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 11:54 AM

Police have one man in custody after a man was shot in Dayton Sunday.

>>Officer-involved shooting is Kettering’s third within a year

Multiple crews arrived to the scene where a victim was found with at least one gunshot wound in the 1500 block of Meriline Avenue around 12:50 a.m., according to Sgt. Kyle B. Thomas of the Dayton Police Department.

Police had several witnesses that lead them to two male suspects after investigating. One suspect is in custody, said Thomas.

>>WATCH: Police shocked during scuffle in Dayton, officers injured

The victim was transported to Miami Valley Hospital by medics with non-life threatening injuries. 

He was later released but has not been cooperative with investigators, according to Thomas.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to

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Texas veteran, 79, evicted for failing to pay taxes on home

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 9:19 AM

A Fort Worth man who has lived in the same house for decades was evicted Friday
A Fort Worth man who has lived in the same house for decades was evicted Friday

A veteran who has lived in a Texas home for decades is homeless after he was unable to pay back taxes and the house was sold at public auction, WFAA reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Billie McGruder turns 80 next month. He has lived in the house his parents bought in the 1930s for decades, but he was evicted Friday, the television station reported. McGruder’s possessions, including furniture, clothes and photographs were scattered on the front yard.

"Your neighbors see you get put outdoors in the middle of the morning," McGruder told WFAA. "It's mind-boggling."

Records show Tarrant County officials seized his home over nearly $6,000 in unpaid taxes and then auctioned it off to a real estate company for $38,000, KTVT reported.

Anthony Drake Jr., a neighbor, said he is storing some of McGruder’s prized possessions. He told WFAA that he grew up on the street where McGruder lived and that it is tough to see him evicted.

"As long as he don't have a home, he has one here," Drake told WFAA. "This is the only grandfather I know. Yeah, it's hard."

McGruder’s home was sold on Jan. 2, 2017, at auction. Tarrant County Precinct 8 Constable Michael Campbell told WFAA that McGruder had a chance to contest the eviction.

"He had an opportunity to file a legal challenge to the writ," Campbell told the television station.

Neighbors said McGruder gets easily confused. When a KTVT reporter asked his age, McGruder said he was 68.

Yamal Mulid, who bought the house at auction, told WFAA he was unaware about McGruder’s situation.

"If I knew this was going to happen or the old man is in the house, I would never have bought the house," he said. 

Mulid said he was willing to rent the house to McGruder at a discounted rate. He added that he would be willing to sell it back to McGruder for the auction price.

"If they want the house back, they can have it," Mulid told WFAA. "I wish they could come up with the money and they can buy the house back from me."

GoFundMe page with a goal set at $38,000 has been started for McGruder.

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Crews respond to Cincinnati Financial for report of fire

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 10:59 AM
Updated: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 11:24 AM

A fire was reported at Cincinnati Financial in Fairfield on Sunday, June 24, 2018.

UPDATE @11:20 a.m.

Fire crews cleared the scene shortly after 11 a.m.

We are working to gather additional information.


Emergency crews are responding to Cincinnati Financial for a reported fire.

The fire was called in around 10:25 a.m. as occuring on the third floor of the southeast tower of the company, which is located at 6200 South Gilmore Road.

Two reports of fake cash circulating in Hamilton

Units responding to the scene told dispatchers the fire broke out in an elevator but was already extinguished as of 10:32 a.m. and there was no known flame.

Power was shut down to the building as a precautionary measure.

The company’s nearly 3,000 employees make it the largest employer in Fairfield and the second largest employer in all of Butler County.

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