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Jewelry Store Linked to Drug Trafficking and $3M Money-Laundering Scheme, Feds Say

36 people have been arrested in the case.

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CINCINNATI – Tri-State Jewelers, a downtown Cincinnati retailer that was raided last week, was linked to drug-distribution and money-laundering networks, authorities say.

A federal grand jury has charged 36 individuals with crimes related to narcotics and money laundering conspiracies in an indictment that was unsealed on Nov. 19.

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Those charged include 22 Cincinnati-area individuals, according to a press release from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Law enforcement agents arrested all 36 defendants late last week and over the weekend.

According to the indictment, beginning in March 2016 and continuing through October 2019, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and cocaine.

The indictment alleges two Cincinnati businesses were used to launder proceeds from the narcotics conspiracy: Tri-State Jewelers on Race Street and Nationwide Automotive on Vine Street. It is alleged that cash was kept stored at both locations. The cash was then allegedly concealed and packaged to be transported to and from the Cincinnati region.

According to the 15-count indictment, between December 2018 and April 2019, defendants stored, at least temporarily, approximately $2.5 million at Tri-State Jewelers.

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For example, Tri-State Jeweler accepted $1,400 in cash for the purchase of a diamond pendant necklace in May 2019, $15,000 for the purchase of a diamond ring in June 2019 and $4,000 for the purchase of a diamond ring in July 2019, the DEA stated.

Also in July 2019, Nationwide Automotive accepted $38,800 in alleged narcotics proceeds for the purchase of a vehicle, according to the release.

It is alleged at least $800,000 was laundered at Nationwide Automotive between November 2018 and April 2019.

Co-conspirators are also charged with maintaining drug premises on Prosser and Glenmore avenues in Cincinnati.

DEA seized more than $500,000 in cash, 19 pounds of fentanyl, 3 pounds of heroin, 100 pounds of cocaine, 42 pounds of methamphetamine, 47 weapons, 12 vehicles, the jewelry store inventory, assorted jewelry belonging to defendants and residences valued at approximately $1.1 million total thus far in the case.

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