How central figure in cold-case drug investigation resurfaced after feds deported him

Francisco Mireles arrested in large cocaine bust
Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 09:01:36-05

SPRINGDALE, Ohio -- A federal investigation into a drug trafficking organization went cold three years ago, when the U.S. government deported a key suspect to Mexico.

Now Francisco Mireles is being held in the Butler County Jail. And the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says he and three other men were part of a group moving large amounts of cocaine through Greater Cincinnati.

A criminal complaint and affidavit from DEA Special Agent David Zummach details the case against Mireles and how agents finally caught him two weeks ago:

The takedown started with a meeting at a strip mall Mexican restaurant and forced federal agents to tail the suspects through Hamilton and Warren counties over the course of about five hours, Zummach wrote.

Mireles, 35, was a leader within a drug organization that Cincinnati DEA agents first investigated in 2013, Zummach wrote. But he was deported the next year, and the investigation went cold.

Then, on Jan. 30, DEA agents got word that Mireles was back, coming to the Cincinnati area to wait for a load of drugs to arrive. Agents in Los Angeles had tipped the Cincinnati office to a "large-scale cocaine trafficking organization" working in the Tri-State six months earlier, in June.

Mireles was kind of a logistics man, according to the criminal complaint, setting up shipments of cocaine and figuring out how to distribute it to other people involved in the drug trade.

On the morning of Jan. 30, he met Mario Cortez-Beltran, 42, at Blue Agave restaurant on Princeton Pike in Springdale.

Mario Cortez-Beltran

After nearly two hours, they left in Mireles' Jeep and went to a Colerain Township condo complex.

There, Mireles got into Ronald Fleming's car and went back to Blue Agave, while Cortez-Beltran took the Jeep to a Huntington Bank around the corner from the restaurant.

Cortez-Beltran came back to Blue Agave, where he met up with Mireles, Fleming and others not identified in the court documents.

Mireles got out of Fleming's car, went to Cortez-Beltran's car, and then walked over to Fleming's car and handed him something, Zummach wrote.

Ronald Fleming

Moments later, Fleming and Cortez-Beltran drove off, both headed north on Interstate 71.

They ended up at the Flying J truck stop off exit 32 in Warren County. Cortez-Beltran parked where he could see Fleming.

Meanwhile, Fleming lifted his car's hood, and Romeo Figueroa got into the passenger seat. A few minutes later, Figureoa got out, and Fleming drove to the back and parked next to Figueroa's tractor-trailer.

After a little while, Fleming left and headed south on I-71, while Figueroa went north.

Romeo Figueroa

Ohio troopers stopped Fleming's car and found 20 kilograms of cocaine.

Once troopers found the drugs, law enforcement officials also stopped Cortez-Beltran's car and Figueroa's tractor-trailer.

Agents also had been following Mireles, and they arrested him in a parking lot on Southland Boulevard in Forest Park.

Mireles, Cortez-Beltran and Figueroa were being held for the federal government at the Butler County Jail, according to online records. Fleming was being held in Campbell County, but he is now at an undisclosed location.