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$800,000 in suspected fentanyl seized during undercover narcotics operation in Franklin County

According to the sheriff’s office, the operation resulted in the seizure of more than 4 kilograms of suspected fentanyl worth an estimated $800,000.
Credit: Franklin County Sheriff's Office
Alvaro Hernandez, Magally Ruelas-Gonzales and Arturo Benavides

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three people have been arrested and charged in an undercover narcotics investigation by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Hilliard Division of Police.

According to the sheriff’s office, the operation resulted in the seizure of more than 4 kilograms of suspected fentanyl worth an estimated $800,000.

The investigation revealed the fentanyl entered the United States at the country’s southwest border and were intended for distribution in Columbus.

“This was a high-risk operation,” said Sheriff Dallas Baldwin. “It’s nearly impossible to measure prevention, but I am confident the actions of SIU investigators and Hilliard officers saved lives.”

The sheriff’s office said the operation began in May 2021 and reached an end Thursday when 28-year-old Alvaro Hernandez agreed to meet with an undercover detective to sell the drugs.

Investigators arrested Hernandez and 37-year-old Magally Ruelas-Gonzales as they attempted to meet with the detectives.

Arturo Benavides was arrested after a sheriff’s K-9 deputy conducted a controlled traffic stop on the vehicle Benavides was driving and found the suspected fentanyl.

COUNTLESS LIVES SAVED. An incredible effort by the FCSO Special Investigations Unit and the Hilliard Division of Police who joined forces to seize FOUR kilos of suspected fentanyl (images at 2:57 in the video). The narcotics, with an estimated street value of $800,000, entered the U.S. at the southwest border destined for Central Ohio. The 5-month long undercover drug operation resulted in 3-felony drug trafficking arrests. Investigators also obtained search warrants for 3-residences and recovered an additional 700-grams of fentanyl. This was a high risk, high level operation and we couldn’t be more proud of the covert investigators, Hilliard officers, SWAT and SERT deputies, and of course our K9 rock star for intercepting this dangerous and deadly drug before it infiltrated our community. #fcsoinvestigations #addiction #notinmyhouse #lawenforcement #k9

Posted by Franklin County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, October 14, 2021

Following the arrest, investigators obtained warrants to search three residences. A weapon and an additional 700 grams of suspected fentanyl were located at one of the residences on Chippewa Falls Street in Dublin.

These narcotics have an estimated street value of about $140,000, according to the sheriff’s office.

“This investigation was the result of the cooperative efforts of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Hilliard Division of Police,” said Hilliard Deputy Chief of Police Michael Woods. “Working partnerships such as this are what lead to successful investigations and the removal of dangerous drugs from our community.”

Hernandez, Ruelas-Gonzales and Benavides have been charged with aggravated trafficking in drugs. The investigation is ongoing and could result in additional felony charges.  

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