Saturday, August 30, 2003

11 accused of participating in large cocaine, marijuana ring



By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

State and federal authorities say they broke up a $1 million drug ring this week that has been selling cocaine and marijuana in Greater Cincinnati for more than 10 years.

A federal grand jury unsealed indictments against 11 men Friday in connection with the drug ring, charging them with crimes ranging from conspiracy to money laundering to selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.

Authorities say the men maintained storage facilities to hide the drugs, stashed profits in safe deposit boxes and set up at least eight corporations to launder profits.

"This organization was a business, and their business was selling illegal drugs," U.S. Attorney Gregory Lockhart said Friday.

He said the indictments were the result of a year-long investigation that involved nine federal, state and local agencies, including the FBI, the IRS and the Cincinnati Police Department.

The indictment states that two of the men, Daryle Ballew and Dwight Cooke, supplied other members of the conspiracy with drugs, which then were sold throughout Greater Cincinnati. The charges claim the conspiracy began in 1992.

Lockhart said agents and officers seized nearly $1 million in cash, 18 vehicles, a mink coat, firearms and money counting machines when they arrested the men this week.

E-mail dhorn@enquirer.com




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