Friday, May 21, 1999

Police: Drug ring busted up

Eight from Hamilton face charges

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Eight people indicted Thursday on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine are members of a major trafficking ring, authorities said.

        The charges are the result of a six-month investigation by a joint federal, state and local law enforcement task force.

        “This will have a significant impact on drug trafficking in the community and allow us to go deeper into the drug cartel,” Hamilton Police Chief Neil R. Ferdelman said.

        A federal grand jury in Cincinnati indicted Davon Rodriguez, 20; Josue Rodriguez Jr., 23; David J. Scott, 21; Brian B. Stone, 27; Edward S. Belarski, 30; Rickey D. Jones, 25; Paul R. Carpenter, 20; and Joseph D. Blankenship, 27. All live in Hamilton.

        The indictment alleges the defendants conspired to distribute drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and crack.

        “We had evidence that members of the conspiracy possessed handguns and high-powered assault weapons and others to protect their narcotics,” said William Hunt, assistant U.S. attorney. “Some of those weapons were recovered.”

        The investigation was carried out by a number of local agencies, including the Butler County Sheriff's office; Hamilton, Middletown, Fairfield and Union Township police; and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

        “This was a massive drug operation,” Chief Ferdelman said. “In my 25 years as a police officer, I can't remember an operation of this scope in Hamilton.”

        At a news conference Thursday in Hamilton, Mr. Hunt said he expects additional charges to follow.

        He said police recovered a sizable amount of weapons, cocaine and drug items, “indicative of a large amount of drug trafficking in the area.” More than $90,000 in cash was seized, officers said.

        The operation became public Monday when officers executed a search warrant at the Vine Street home of Mary and Mark Biroschak. Officers were seeking Mrs. Biroschak's son, Joe Blankenship.

        The couple claim officers stormed into their home — where they and their granddaughters, ages 3 and 6, were asleep — about 5:30 a.m. Neighbors said they heard police use a bullhorn to warn residents, but the Biroschaks say the noise must have been drowned by an air conditioner.

        Mr. Hunt said the Hamilton SWAT team went there looking for evidence of a crime — with a federal search warrant. Assault weapons were recovered.

        When officers arrived at the home, Mr. Blankenship, 27, already was in jail.

        Two officers, whose names have not been made public, were injured during the raid.

        The defendants appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court for detention hearings before Magistrate Judge Jack Sherman. Six of the eight defendants were held without bail because they pose a danger to the community, federal officers said.

        Trial dates will be set later.


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