Police say LA Hispanic gang behind Tri-State cocaine bust
Tom McKee, email@example.com
11:40 AM, Aug 31, 2011
8:54 AM, Sep 1, 2011
HAMILTON, Ohio - Hamilton Police said Wednesday the 12 kilograms of cocaine seized Tuesday in Greater Cincinnati was supplied by a Hispanic gang from Los Angeles and destined for sale on the streets of Cincinnati, Hamilton County and Butler County.
The seizure was the result of a year-long joint investigation by Hamilton Police, Cincinnati Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Butler County Prosecutor's Office.
Five men were arrested on I-75 in Hamilton County -- two in Hartwell and three in Sharonville. Each has been charged with conspiracy to trafficking in drugs.
The cocaine was recovered from their vehicles or storage units in the area. A total of $28,000 case was also confiscated.
The men apprehended are:
* Santiago Ayon-Sanchez (45) Bakersfield, California
* Horacio Bernabe (44) Ogden, Utah
* Ghale Bhob-Bahadu (41) Los Angeles
* Aron Rich (38) Los Angeles
* Daniel Rodriguez-Rubio (30) Hamilton
Chief Neil Ferdelman estimated the wholesale value of the powdered and crack cocaine at $500,000 and the street value at $1.2 million.
"This is again one of the largest drug busts -- if not the largest drug bust that has happened to date," he said.
Task force members say Hamilton has become a drug corridor for both Dayton and Cincinnati.
"Drug dealers are feeding violence through their poison down to the street level dealers down in Cincinnati or up in Dayton," said Jim Deis of the AFT Violent Crime Enforcement Team. "It is a major drug trafficking corridor."
Deis added, "We're going to take these offenders off the streets."
Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said the case proves the value of cooperation among law enforcement agencies.
"It trips off your tongue very easily to say 12 keys, but what is 12 keys? It's 12,000 grams of this junk -- 12,000 grams," he said. "This puts a dent in what's going on out there."
Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig, who spent many years with the Los Angeles Police Department and knows the gang culture there very well, said he was troubled by the fact that West Coast gang members saw fit to make their way to Ohio.
"They are not welcome here. Their level of violence is not welcome here," he said. "This should be a message for anyone from Los Angeles and part of a gang who wants to come here and peddle their drugs that you will go to jail."
Chief Craig wouldn't name the Los Angeles gang sending the cocaine to Hamilton because he never pays homage to such organizations.
"However, there are several Hispanic gangs in LA, one in particular that is known for its level of violence," he said. "It's also know for its level of violence against police officers."
Gmosner said the case shows why it's a good idea to go after local groups, such as the Baltimore Street Gang in Middletown.
"These home-grown organizations become a conduit for these out-of-town organizations and that's why it's important for me at least to take down these local gangs as fast as they sprout up," he said.
Deir said he agreed with that rationale.
"Hamilton may not have a street gang problem, so to speak, that's organized," he said. "But, the issue that we're dealing with is that they do have various cells of drug manufacturing organizations that are bringing their poison to the good streets of Hamilton."
"Don't do it in our back yard," he added.
Chief Ferdelman said the arrests will be well-publicized in the drug trafficking community.
"Although we have found the drugs here, this is probably not the place for the new drug pusher to come or the new drug trafficker to come because this is the kind of attention it will receive." he said.