The arrest of a suspected heroin dealer allegedly in the U.S. illegally for the fourth time — in what has been described as the biggest drug bust in Montgomery County history — is the latest sign that Dayton is a key stop in a heroin pipeline stretching across the border.
Josue F. Morales-Medina, 40, was being held on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer, but had not been charged with trafficking in drugs or any other charges Wednesday, according to jail records.
On Tuesday, the Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force announced it had arrested Morales-Medina and seized 20 pounds of heroin with a $1 million street value, as well as $450,000 in cash allegedly obtained through illegal drug sales.
On Monday, he was arrested at 8:23 p.m. at 328 Hillway Dr. in Harrison Twp. and booked into the Montgomery County Jail at 8:47 p.m., according to jail records.
Morales-Medina’s neighbor said Morales-Medina and another man had been living at the Hillway Drive address for about a month before the drug bust.
“I heard a whole SWAT team parade and a whole bunch of cars come through and just break into the house next door,” said Isaiah Estrada. “I met the gentleman one day when I was raking leaves.”
Authorities said they also seized five handguns and numerous items and paraphernalia used in processing and packaging of illegal drugs and illicit drug proceeds.
The magnitude of the case stunned Estrada, who identified himself as Morales-Medina’s landlord.
“I met him for one day and I saw his picture on the news,” Estrada said. “I was just blown away.”
The arrest is another sign of Dayton’s place along a heroin pipeline from Mexico.
“Ohio is often the first drop-off point for other states,” Montgomery Sheriff Phil Plummer said.
Authorities said Morales-Medina had been using houses in Harrison Township, Dayton and Shelby County for the safekeeping of the heroin and drug money. Federal, state and local drug agents served search warrants at three addresses, resulting in the seizure of the drugs, $150,000 in cash, weapons and paraphernalia.
On Wednesday, officials in Vandalia Municipal Court, which would have jurisdiction if a case was filed under Ohio law, said no charges had been filed or hearings held with Morales-Medina.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office had not been contacted about the case, spokesman Greg Flannagan said. There was no case filed in federal court, according to online records.
Morales-Medina was arrested Monday, a passenger in a traffic stop conducted by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Authorities seized $300,000 from him.
According to authorities, Morales-Medina was illegally in the United States and had been deported three times before in criminal cases, according to authorities. He faced federal deportation charges in Nebraska in 2001 and Arizona in 2010, according to court records.
Plummer said the drug seizure slows the flow of the drug into the region.
“A bulk seizure of this amount directly and significantly impacts the Mexican Drug Cartel’s ability to distribute heroin to our neighborhoods and citizens who are struggling with this epidemic,” said Plummer. “Our strong partnerships with area law enforcement agencies continue to make a significant impact in the Miami Valley.”
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