Skip to main content
Press Release

Middletown drug ring leader connected to Sinaloa Drug Cartel sentenced to 25 years in prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

CINCINNATI – A Middletown man was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 300 months in prison for his role in a local narcotics conspiracy tied to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel in Mexico.


Donte Holdbrook, 28, was one of 12 individuals charged by a Cincinnati federal grand jury in March 2018 in a narcotics and money laundering conspiracy.


Holdbrook’s local drug trafficking organization trafficked more than $1 million in fentanyl and heroin in the region. After Holdbrook was arrested in late 2016, Middletown Police officials reported that fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses in Middletown fell by approximately one third.


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, California, in a related case.


The 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 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 Dec. 2, 2017, and he arranged for multiple shipments of fentanyl into the Middletown area.


Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac, Middletown Police Chief David Birk and Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Richard S. Fambro announced the sentence imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black. Criminal Chief Karl P. Kadon is representing the United States in this case.


# # #

Updated January 13, 2022

Drug Trafficking