TOLEDO, Ohio — Two men and a woman from Texas are in custody Wednesday after authorities seized a package of fentanyl destined for Ohio. The seizures and arrests follow a joint investigation by the Toledo Bulk Cash Smuggling Task Force, on which U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is the lead federal agency.
“Fentanyl is a dangerous synthetic opioid with deadly consequences for users and those in law enforcement,” said HSI Detroit Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis. “This significant seizure clearly demonstrates HSI’s resolve to combatting the ongoing epidemic affecting Ohio, which we redoubled last week by pledging increased resources in the state.”
The seizure comes days after ICE and Ohio officials announced that HSI special agents had trained more than 300 law enforcement personnel in the state on dark net and virtual currency, which is increasingly how synthetic opioids are purchased.
Francis, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Toledo Police Chief George Kral, and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman announced the seizures and arrests today.
Authorities with the Toledo Bulk Cash Smuggling Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General's Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, began investigating the suspects on Monday after uncovering information about their involvement in possible drug activity.
As part of the investigation, task force members intercepted a package containing approximately one kilogram of fentanyl that was shipped from a Lucas County post office en route to Texas. Investigators also seized an additional half kilogram of fentanyl and approximately $8,500 in cash after serving a search warrant at a Lucas County hotel where the suspects were staying.
"Individuals from out of state who think they can come into Ohio to traffic drugs undetected should know that we have task forces like this one across the state whose mission is to find you, seize your drugs, and stop you from profiting off of Ohioans who are suffering from addiction," said Attorney General DeWine. "It took this task force less than a day and a half to identify these suspects and intercept the package of deadly fentanyl before it left the post office. I commend task force members for their swift work."
"The fentanyl seized last night is enough to kill everyone in Toledo several times over," said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman. "This is a great example of law enforcement working together to make our community safer."
“This arrest should show that the Toledo Police Department, with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners will continue to work diligently and aggressively to keep Toledo’s streets free from this poison,” said Toledo Police Chief George Kral. “I commend those dedicated investigators who were involved in this large seizure and arrests. God only knows how many lives have been saved, and subsidiary crimes avoided, because of these dedicated men and women. I sincerely hope anyone considering committing illegal activity in Toledo will reconsider doing so.”
The Toledo Bulk Cash Smuggling Task Force consists of authorities from the Toledo Police Department, HSI, U.S. Border Patrol, the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio.
Established in 1986, the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC) assists local law enforcement agencies in combating organized crime and corrupt activities through the creation of multi-jurisdictional task forces. In 2017, authorities working in OOCIC task forces across the state seized more than $25.4 million worth of drugs. The commission is composed of members of the law enforcement community and is chaired by the Ohio Attorney General.