Drug ring connected to at least 3 homicides, Middletown police say

Feds help raid 7 locations in the city, 9 in all
Picture of Middletown police cruiser.
Posted at 10:57 AM, May 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-06 20:33:11-04

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Chanel Barnett said she woke up Monday morning to loud noises and screams.

"I thought I was getting broken in," Barnett said.

That's because the home across the street was being raided by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Middletown police.

"I heard the door, then I heard a scream. It was a mad scream, not like a scared scream," Barnett said.

A few hours hour, she found out why - police said they busted a "drug trafficking ring" that could be connected to three local homicides. Middletown police Major Scott Reeves said the ring supplied as much as half the drugs in Middletown.

Reeves said they believe the ring is connected, directly or indirectly, to the deaths of Teresa Shields in January 2017, Benny Barefield in December 2018, Kapriece Fuller in July 2018, and others. The three named victims were found shot to death in Middletown.

Shields was an "innocent bystander," Reeves said.

"She was not the target of that homicide. She was not involved in drugs," Reeves said.

Chanel's husband, Ezekiel Barnett, said he knew Shields and called her "a good person."

"She was nice. I grew up with her little brother," he said.

He hopes police get answers for Shields' family.

"I hope that they can figure it out. I feel so bad for the family," he said. "I still see her dad around here because he lives down the street."

Reeves said he believes more than one person was involved in the homicides.

"One of the overdose deaths could be directly linked to these drug traffickers," said Reeves. "It's hard to connect a particular overdose to a trafficker, but there's been at least one directly connected."

Authorities served federal search warrants at seven Middletown addresses as well as properties in Dayton and Miamisburg. Police said they recovered an unspecified amount of fentanyl, heroin and guns.

"It was a huge operation. We had multiple SWAT teams because these individuals we’re investigating were also trafficking guns," Reeves said. "We were concerned about gun violence, so we had multiple SWAT teams hitting these locations."

Authorities took Benwan Edwards of Middletown into custody and said more arrests are coming.

Edwards has been charged 61 times in Middletown since 2012, according to 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.

It’s unclear what charges Edwards faces with Monday's arrest, but Reeves said he wasn't tying Edwards to the homicides.

Middletown police said they worked with the FBI and Butler and Warren county drug task forces on the six-month-long investigation.

"Sgt. Jamie Wilcox and the Special Operations team worked on this for over six months. We are really proud of them, not to mention our patrol officers who made a lot of this happen with great street work," Middletown Chief Randy Muterspaw said. "We are so grateful for the Butler County BURN unit, the FBI, Homeland Security, ATF and Warren County Task Force for their teamwork approach to make this happen."

Raids were conducted at the following addresses Monday morning:

  • 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;
  • 9167 Country Pond Trail, Miamisburg.
  • The investigation is ongoing. Police asked anyone with information to call Sgt. Wilcox at 513-425-7749.

    The Journal-News contributed to this report.