In the early hours of Thursday, Oct. 29, members of the Clermont County Drug Task Force, in conjunction with officers from Union Township Police Department and the Clermont County Sheriff’s office, began serving 55 suspects with arrest warrants.
The operation, dubbed “Habit Breaker,” was set in motion in an effort to rid Union Township of suspected peddlers of heroin. On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the grand jury returned a total of 203 felony counts against individuals involving the possession and trafficking of drugs.
"This joint investigation is an important step in reducing the amount of illegal narcotics flowing through the Union Township area. However, we know from experience, it will resurface without aggressive and continuous law enforcement pressure," said Clermont County Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg.
"The in-depth investigation, code named 'Habit Breaker,' concentrated on persons who were involved in trafficking and abusing various drugs within Union Township, including marijuana, MDMA, xanax, vicodin, soboxone, fentynal, ocycontin, percocet, methadone, cocaine and heroin," said Rodenberg. "The number of individuals identified and charged constitutes the highest number ever within Union Township as a result of a single investigative opportunity."
According to Chief Deputy Rick Combs, the investigation was initiated in 2008 by the Clermont County Drug Task Force and Union Township Police Department as a result of the dramatic increase of drug complaints, crimes, overdoses and deaths which specifically involved black tar heroin.
"The task force seized or purchased 17 grams of heroin in 2007 which increased to over 300 grams in 2008," said Combs. "Operation 'Habit Breaker' alone has resulted in the seizure of over 1,800 grams of heroin. In the early stages of the investigation, investigators noted links or a relationship between some of the suspects and potential targets which expanded the investigation in an attempt to look at all possible suspected traffickers."
Combs added that the Union Township Police Department and the Clermont County Drug Task Force worked jointly to analyze and compile offense reports, collect evidence and develop informants which enabled agents to identify both abusers of the substances as well as those individuals who were trafficking in drugs.
"Additionally, the Clermont County Drug Task Force and the Union Township police previously indicted or charged 12 other individuals as part of this operation, making a total of 67 individuals being indicted or charged," said Combs. "The operation is continuing and more indictments or criminal charges may be forthcoming."
During the press conference held on Oct. 29, Union Township Police Chief Terry Zinser thanked all the agencies involved in the effort.
"Especially those undercover field officers who placed themselves at risk for the safety of our citizens and preservation of our community," said Zinser. "I also want to thank those citizens who provided information about suspicious activity in their neighborhood. Their assistance was invaluable. The public must remain involved in the fight against illegal drugs because these defendants and their illegal drug sales are supported by proceeds from thefts, burglaries and robberies committed against our citizens by their customers. We must realize that this single cooperative effort will not eradicate the presence of heroin in our community. It is frightening to think some of these defendants have direct connections to, and are supplied by a Mexican cartel. With this in mind, the Union Township Police Department is committed to continued efforts to suppress illegal drug usage and sales, and to hold those offenders accountable."
Because of the severity of the crimes, the police arrested 12 people previously. They are charged with trafficking in drugs (heroin) felony 1 and engaging in corrupt activities also a felony 1. They have been charged with a combined total of 82 felonies in Clermont, Hamilton and Butler counties in Ohio.
Those previously arrested include, Abraham Juarez, Adan Herrera-Pacheco, Javier Medina Torrez, Jose Guadalupe Rodriguez Hernandez, Jose Maria Perez-Martinez, Jose Ramirez, Juan Alfonso Rivera-Murillo, Octavio Camacho-Ontiveros, Pedro Avila Cruz, Richard Morales, Trevor Taylor, and Vizcarra Alberto.