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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.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Jewelry Store Was Going Out of Business … But a Former Employee Had Other Ideas (Video)

Stan and Mary Sherwin operated the store for 40 years but decided to retire.

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A jewelry store in Atascadero, CA, was about to close for good as its owners retired.

But a former employee had other ideas.

Stan and Mary Sherwin operated K. Jons Diamonds and Gems for 40 years and were set to cease operations in early January, The Tribune reports.

But then Lindsay Jane Chatham, who began working for the store as a teenager and continued for several years, decided to move back to town with her husband, Greg, and take over the business.

“We found out they were retiring, and so many things had to fall into place. It was crazy,” she was quoted saying.

The store will operate as K. Jons Jewelry Co., according to The Tribune.

The Chathams, both of whom are gemologists, will lease the store space from the Sherwins. They’ll keep most of K. Jons’s employees.

One thing they aren’t buying from the Sherwins is inventory. Most of that was purchased in a going-out-of-business sale.

Watch the video:

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Louis Vuitton to Sell Jewelry Made From World’s Second-Largest Diamond

The deal follows LVMH’s acquisition of Tiffany & Co.

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LVMH Sewelo Diamon

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE has entered a deal to sell jewelry made from the world’s second-largest diamond, known as the Sewelo diamond.

It’s a 1,758 carat gem that’s the size of a tennis ball.

Lucara Diamond Corp. announced a deal with LVMH and the HB Co., a diamond manufacturer from Antwerp, that will see the diamond cut into pieces and made into Louis Vuitton jewelry.

Bloomberg reports that LVMH “will likely create several extremely high-end pieces  to establish a sense of exclusivity.”

A price tag for the Sewelo has not been revealed. Yahoo Finance notes that it sold for $53 million in 2017.

The acquisition is further evidence of LVMH’s plans to grow its jewelry business, according to Bloomberg. It follows the company’s nearly $16 billion acquisition of Tiffany & Co.

The diamond was recovered from Lucara’s Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana in April 2019.

According to a press release from Lucara:

Lucara will receive an up front non-material payment for the Sewelô and retain a 50% interest in the individual polished diamonds that result.

Further, 5% of all of the retail sales proceeds generated from this historic collection will be invested directly back into Botswana on community-based initiatives undertaken by Lucara.

Lucara CEO Eira Thomas said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Louis Vuitton, the famous luxury House, to transform the historic, 1,758 carat Sewelô, Botswana’s largest diamond, into a collection of fine jewellery that will commemorate this extraordinary discovery and contribute direct benefits to our local communities of interest in Botswana.”

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Karma Hits Hard as Bungling Thieves Lock Themselves in Jewelry Store During Robbery (Video)

A judge called the crime a ‘fiasco.’

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Security footage of a jewelry story robbery described as a “fiasco,” with the thieves briefly locking themselves in the business, is making the rounds on social media.

The bungling robbers struck the Ital Gold shop in Green Lanes, Haringey, north London, the BBC reports. The crime took place in April, but the video surfaced recently when Andrew Elliott, 32, was sentenced to seven years in prison for the robbery.

A store worker “was held in a headlock and dragged to the floor,” according to the BBC. She broke free and ran away, hitting a panic alarm and then hiding in the bathroom.

Footage of the heist has accumulated 1.3 million views on Twitter, Today.com reports.

In the clip, the suspects tried to flee but realized they were trapped, as the door wouldn’t open from the inside. One of the suspects thought to hit the “catch and release” button, according to Today.com. The thieves then repeatedly failed to hold the door for each other.

In sentencing Elliott, Judge Mark Dennis QC said, “This was a planned and organized robbery, however much of a fiasco the latter part of it turned out to be,” according to the BBC.

The three still managed to make off with $27,000 in jewelry. The other two suspects have yet to be identified.

Watch the BBC’s clip:

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