By Dan Horn
Enquirer staff writer
Police arrested more than 20 drug suspects Thursday in a series of pre-dawn raids that authorities say smashed a major cocaine trafficking ring based in Walnut Hills and Evanston.
Federal prosecutors said the raids netted nearly 8 pounds of powder and crack cocaine, large amounts of cash, two assault rifles and several other guns.
They said the suspects are members of two loosely affiliated drug trafficking operations that are blamed for intimidation and violence in several Cincinnati neighborhoods.
"It's a pretty sophisticated group," said Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher. "It's a huge operation for us. It had a big impact on the neighborhoods."
The raids began around 4:30 a.m. and involved more than 150 officers and agents from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Cincinnati Police and about a dozen other law enforcement agencies in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
DEA officials described the trafficking ring as a "low-level operation" because it was not national or international in scope. But they said the group had a significant impact in Cincinnati, especially in Walnut Hills and Evanston.
"We've hopefully returned the neighborhoods back to some sort of calm," said Gary Oetjen, special agent in charge of the DEA in southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
He said the investigation began in March, when police pinpointed what they believed was a large drug-dealing operation. After months of investigating, Oetjen said, authorities found the ring actually was made up of two groups that sometimes worked together.
Authorities said the groups were headed by Kenneth Richardson, 26, of Evanston, and Donyell Reeves also 26, of East Walnut Hills. They are charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and could be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison if they are convicted.
Twenty other suspects face the same charge in federal court, and four others face drug-related charges in state court. Police said no one was hurt during the raids, although officers shot and killed a pit bull when they entered a suspect's home.
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