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Middletown man pleads guilty to cartel-linked drug scheme

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Posted at 5:38 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-04 17:57:54-04

CINCINNATI -- The leader of a Middletown drug ring that distributed fentanyl on behalf of a Mexican cartel pleaded guilty to federal drug charges on Thursday, according to a news release from the Department of Justice. 

Donte Holdbrook, 24, was among 12 people charged in March with helping the Sinaloa Cartel sell the powerful opioid in southwestern Ohio. According to authorities at the time of the arrest, Holdbrook frequently traveled to Mexico to purchase kilos of heroin and fentanyl from the cartel.

A group of associates would transport the drugs back to Middletown, at which point Holdbrook would break the drugs down into small amounts and distribute them to a network of dealers. A portion of the profits from those sales went back to Mexico, where Holdbrook would return to continue the cycle.

At the time of his arrest, Holdbrook was found with nearly a pound of fentanyl in his car, police said.

Butler County saw 232 fatal overdoses in 2017 -- a staggering 82 percent were related to fentanyl, heroin or fentanyl analogs like carfentanil, according to the Butler County Coroner's Office. 

Although one-time kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman sits in a United States prison awaiting a trial scheduled to begin in November, the Sinaloa Cartel remains one of the largest drug trafficking organizations active in North America.