More arrests expected in 6-month Middletown ‘drug ring’ investigation: What we know now

Published: Monday, May 06, 2019 @ 4:23 PM

Chris Newcomb says when he looked out his window he saw SWAT team in Middletown as part of search warrant servings on Monday, May 6, 2019.

A Middletown man was arrested and numerous search warrants were executed Monday morning after a six-month investigation by numerous police agencies.

Benwan Edwards was taken into custody by federal agents, though his charges have not been released.

Here is what we know about Edwards and the investigation:

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Edwards is well-known to Middletown police

Edwards, 25, has been charged 61 times in Middletown since 2012, according to court records reviewed by the Journal-News. He was charged seven times last year, including with participating in a criminal gang, felonious assault, assault and having weapons under disability, according to court records.

He was charged 18 times in 2012, four times in 2013, nine times in 2014, twice in 2015, 12 times in 2016, and nine times in 2017.

More arrests are forthcoming

Even though Edwards was the only person arrested Monday, Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said there will be more arrests as the investigation continues.

What impact will arrest have?

Muterspaw said the “drug ring” is believed to have a direct or indirect connection to the homicides of Teresa Shields, Benny Barefield, Kapriece Fuller and others.

Edwards is the son of Barefield, 48, of the 800 block of Ninth Avenue, who was found shot at 10:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 2018 in his red Buick Lucerne at the corner of Yankee Road and Ninth Avenue, said Maj. Scott Reeve.

Reeve said major drug busts like this occur every few years in the city, but he’s unsure what impact it will have on drug activity. There will be a drop, but eventually any dealers who are jailed will be replaced.

“It’s constant,” he said. “But you can’t stop. It gets worse, worse and worse if you give up.”

Neighborhood described as ‘always quiet’

Chris Newcomb, who lives on Circle Kelly Jo, where one of the nine search warrants was issued, said when he looked out his kitchen window Monday morning, he saw SWAT members wearing vests and carrying guns “ready to go do their thing.” He said they entered a house and left several times with items.

Newcomb said the man who lives in the house drives several cars and periodically changes license plates. He said sometimes the vehicles are parked down the street, away from the residence.

He described the neighborhood as “always quiet.”

Search warrants issued by numerous agencies

Police said guns, drugs and about 20 vehicles they allege were used in drug trafficking were seized when agencies participated in serving federal search warrants at: 826 16th Ave., Middletown; 6930 Mt. Vernon, Apt. 9, Middletown; 6880 Brandywine, Apt. 12, Middletown; 806 17th Ave., Middletown; 2703 Roosevelt Blvd., Middletown; 1901 Circle Kelly Jo, Middletown; 300 S. Sutphin St., Middletown; 925 Cleverly Road, Dayton; and 9167 Country Pond Trail, Miamisburg.

Reeve said several agencies and five SWAT teams collaborated in issuing the warrants.

Police were “a little concerned” about the potential for violence, but Reeve said the operation went “off without a hitch.”