CINCINNATI -- Agents stopped several pounds of heroin from coming into Cincinnati Thursday when they seized $1 million worth of the drug on Interstate 74, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.
The seizure “disrupted a large organization distributing heroin from Chicago to Cincinnati,” Sheriff Jim Neil said in a news release.
The Regional Enforcement Narcotics Unit (RENU) Highway Interdiction Team found 6.6 pounds of heroin on I-74 in Whitewater Township, Sheriff Jim Neil said. The estimated street value of the heroin is $1 million.
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Agents arrested Cesar Medina, of Chicago, and Elfego Velazquez Rosas on charges of trafficking heroin.
Sgt. Greg Morgan said officers first noticed Medina and Rosas in a Chevrolet Tahoe at about 7 p.m. when they were traveling at about 40 mph on I-74, 30 miles under the speed limit. Officers pulled them over when the driver committed a traffic violation.
Officers found several small packages of heroin under ice in the bottom of a cooler.
Morgan said the packages -- which were “a little bit larger than a Topps baseball package” -- are unlike anything he’s ever seen.
Someone broke the 6.6 pounds of heroin into smaller bundles of 100 grams, Morgan said. The small packages were then stamped, shrink-wrapped, wrapped in carbon paper and vacuum sealed.
“This is the first time I've actually seen this small individual containers that are significant for the fact that the in-depth work it took to vacuum seal each package, stamp each package, wrap it with a masking agent, wrap it with cellophane and distribute it,” Morgan said.
The stamps on each of the bundles could help investigators determine where the heroin came from, Morgan said.
“Each container or each item that we have is significant because it's stamped,” Morgan said. “It has its own like Nike or Adidas stamp on it. The emblem will be recorded, and we'll submit that to our intelligence databases to determine which actual cartel or organization distributed this in the United States.”
Morgan said investigators believe the packages contain pure heroin, enough for at least 100,000 doses at 1/10 of a gram per dose.
“We're talking about 100,000 unit doses easily before it's stepped on, and if you're going to add adulterous or cutting agents it's going to get up to the 200,000 to 300,000 dosage units that would be distributed in the community,” Morgan said.
Medina and Rosas are being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center on $2 million bonds.