New defendant pleads guilty in conspiracy involving $44 million in drug proceeds laundered to Mexico through local cell phone store fronts
CINCINNATI – Donte Holdbrook, 24, of Middletown, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to his role in a local narcotics conspiracy tied to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel in Mexico.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac, Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw, Preble County Prosecuting Attorney Martin P. Votel and Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Paul A. Pride announced the plea entered into yesterday before U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black.
Holdbrook was one of 12 individuals charged by a Cincinnati federal grand jury in March in a narcotics and money laundering conspiracy. Members of the group distributed fentanyl from Mexico in Middletown and sent proceeds back to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel in Mexico. A number of others were charged in San Diego, Calif. in a related case.
This investigation began when undercover FBI agents in San Diego learned that a known Sinaloa Cartel money-laundering boss, Jose Lopez-Albarran, coordinated and conducted multiple bulk cash pickups from a drug trafficking organization within the Southern District of Ohio.
Lopez-Albarran was one of 40 defendants charged in the Southern District of California. According to court documents there, he and other members of the Cartel allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds from the United States to Mexico between 2015 and 2018. Through the investigation in California, law enforcement discovered multiple drug-trafficking cells throughout the United States.
The Middletown, Ohio drug-trafficking cell led by Holdbrook sent drug proceeds back to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico via Lopez-Albarran.
Holdbrook was found to be in possession of 366 grams of fentanyl during a traffic stop on December 2, 2017, and in the plea also admitted he arranged for multiple shipments of fentanyl into the Middletown area.
Holdbrook pleaded guilty to the narcotics conspiracy and faces 10 years to life in prison.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of the cases by the FBI – including FBI San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force, FBI Cincinnati Division and FBI Cleveland Division, Cincinnati and Middletown police departments, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Warren County Drug Task Force, as well as the coordination of Preble County Prosecutor Votel. Glassman also commended Assistant United States Attorney Karl P. Kadon, who is representing the United States in this case.
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