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A major $3.6M fentanyl bust in the area stung a Mexican cartel. Here’s how it went down.

The task force operation that resulted in a seizure of $3.6 million worth of fentanyl in Clark County this week began with surveillance at a Butler Twp. hotel, a common tactic used by area task forces.

A criminal complaint written by a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent and filed in Dayton’s U.S. District Court said that two of the four men arrested had entered the United States via a port of entry at Laredo, Texas.

HSI special agent Kathleen Boyce wrote that surveillance was conducted June 11 by the Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force on Omar Alejandro Cantu-Garcia and David Guillermo Cantu-Garcia at an address that matches the Extended Stay America hotel on Miller Lane.

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The complaint details the surveillance that led to the arrest of Reyes Espinosa-Aguilar, 43, of New Carlisle plus Omar Alejandro Cantu-Garcia, 28, David Guillermo Cantu-Garcia, 30 and Pedro Medina, 40, all of Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

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All four face conspiracy to posses with intent to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl — a count that carries with it a minimum 10-year sentence with conviction. A federal prosecutor said additional charges could be added. Detention hearings are scheduled for Monday.

Boyce wrote that agents saw David Cantu and Omar Cantu leave the hotel just before 6 p.m. in a white Chevrolet Impala.

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Agents saw the vehicle drive on Ohio State Route 235 near New Carlisle in both directions in what Boyce called a “heat run” to assist drug dealers in identifying any law enforcement that may be following them.

The Cantus returned to a Marathon gas station, parked near a taco stand and sat at a picnic table, according to Boyce. The complaint said Omar Cantu retrieved a cardboard box and bag from the vehicle’s trunk and put them in the back seat.

Boyce wrote that agents observed Omar Cantu talk to the driver of a dark Chevrolet Trailblazer before a large white Ford van arrived. The complaint said Medina stayed at the taco stand and Omar Cantu drove the van into a garage at 204 Prentice Drive in New Carlisle.

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Boyce wrote that a dark Nissan Armada parked in the driveway and a female and three minors entered the residence. Less than two hours later, the Armada was moved and the van drove back to the taco stand, according to the complaint.

Agents saw Espinosa drive a green Chrysler minivan to the taco stand parking lot and a transfer to the van, Boyce wrote, and that Espinosa went back to the residence.

A Clark County Sheriff’s deputy stopped the van and a K-9 alerted to narcotics, Boyce wrote. Eight vacuum-sealed packages containing cash were found under the dashboard, the complaint said.

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Boyce wrote that Torres told a Spanish-speaking deputy he was paid $6,000 to drive the van from Mexico to Dayton.

Boyce wrote that the female at the Prentice Drive location consented to a search at the location. Officers found 50 pounds of marijuana in the garage, nine bricks of fentanyl and U.S. currency in “bands” or “stacks” in a closet.

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