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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio


Around Ohio: Task Force seizes 20 kg of drugs, cash and arrests 4 alleged high-level drug traffickers

DAYTON – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer on Thursday announced the arrests of four suspected drug traffickers, believed to be associated with the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.

The Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, also seized approximately 20 kilograms of drugs (mostly heroin and fentanyl), 20 pounds of marijuana, and approximately $120,000 in cash.

The drugs are worth a street value of approximately $2 million.

Dagoberto Verdugo-Aguirre, 45, of Dayton; Julio Castillo-Egurrola, 30, of Dayton; Emmanuel Sanchez-Perez, 28, of Harrison Township; and Cabrera Alvarez, 42, of Phoenix, Arizona were arrested and charged with Possession of Drugs, Trafficking of Drugs, and Money Laundering.

Sanchez-Perez is not a U.S. Citizen. He faced a previous deportation, but returned to the United States.

Throughout the investigation, the Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force searched several residences, which included: 110 Klee Avenue in Dayton, 115 South Delmar Avenue in Dayton, and 332 Hillway Drive in Harrison Township.

"Task force members have made a significant bust with this investigation,” said Attorney General DeWine. "Most of the drugs seized were heroin and fentanyl – poison that will not make it to our streets to endanger the lives of Ohio families.”

“If you’re thinking about bringing drugs into the Miami Valley, don’t. We’re very good at what we do,” said Sheriff Phil Plummer. “I believe our message is clear, and our unified efforts with federal, state and local law enforcement are working.”

The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests are expected.

In Montgomery County so far this year, there have been approximately 200 opiate overdose deaths.

The Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General's Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, is made up of officers from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Miami Township Police Department, Butler Township Police Department, Montgomery County RANGE Task Force, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration and Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office.

Established in 1986, the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC) assists local law enforcement agencies in combating organized crime and corrupt activities. The Commission is composed of members of the law enforcement community and is chaired by the Ohio Attorney General. In 2016, authorities working in OOCIC task forces across the state seized more than $33 million worth of drugs and more than $5.65 million in U.S. currency. So far in 2017, in addition to this investigation, OOCIC task forces have seized nearly $9 million worth of drugs and $1.7 million in U.S. currency.

German officials visit Mount Vernon to talk about economic redevelopment

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — International relationships were strengthened when Metin Hakverdi, a member of the German Bundestag, Germany's parliament, visited local officials on Friday. Hakverdi is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Accompanied by Simon Vaut, a civil servant in the office of Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hakverdi has visited local officials in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Pittsburgh since April 4. They will also visit New York City.

Hakverdi's goal in holding the series of meetings is to understand the changes in the manufacturing sector in the U.S., specifically the Rust Belt. He chose Mount Vernon and Ohio because of their history of transitioning from largely a steel industry to other methods of economic redevelopment.

During the two-hour meeting, the group discussed a number of topics, including the energy market, corporate tax rates, President Donald Trump's agenda on deregulation, fracking and the estate tax, or inheritance tax as it is called in Germany. Family owned businesses are the backbone of German enterprise, as they are in the U.S.

Germans and Mavis

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis talks with Simon Vaut, a civil servant in the office of Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs, center, and Metin Hakverdi, a member of Germany's Bundestag. Vaut and Hakverdi met with Mavis and other local officials on Friday to learn about local economic redevelopment efforts and changes in the manufacturing sector.
KP photo by Cheryl Splain

Another topic was vocational training, something Germany does very well through its apprenticeship program but is lacking in the United States. Vaut said that when German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently visited Trump, they had a good discussion about the apprenticeship program. Ivanka Trump plans to visit Germany to learn firsthand about the program.

Jeff Harris of the Area Development Foundation explained how the city and county try to avoid what Hakverdi termed a “race to the bottom” when it comes to offering excessive incentives for businesses to stay or relocate to the area. Although incentives are not ruled out, the attitude is more “we value ourselves, what's in in for us” when it comes to negotiating with companies. He explained how many small-town representatives are “taking the reins and moving ahead” rather than waiting for help from the federal level.

Vaut said he had a favorable meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He said Germany and the U.S. agree that free trade is good, but Germany is concerned about potential trade barriers. Karen Wright, CEO of Ariel Corp., shared her perception of Trump's intentions based on her multiple meetings with the president. Ariel Corp. has an office in Beijing.

Noting that Germany is trying to get out of the coal industry, Hakverdi broached the question of how to use market forces to not only lower energy costs but also take care of the environment, such as using wind and solar.

As much as anything, Hakverdi wanted to get a sense of the reaction to Trump's election and why disenchanted Democrat voters voted Republican. He also wants to learn what, if any, are the benchmarks or expectations as Trump's presidency progresses.

Noting that disenchantment is not unique to the U.S., he said his gut feeling is Trump's election was based on emotion, not policy. He questioned whether jobs or issues will decide the outcome of the next election, or will the voters again vote based on emotion. The consensus of the local representatives was that it was emotional, that Trump tapped into a deep dissatisfaction many voters have with the status quo.

Hakverdi said that policywise, he is not too pessimistic with Trump's presidency. His criticism stems from Trump's words; he said that as the leader of the west, Trump's words have international consequences.

In addition to Harris and Wright, those attending the meeting included Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis, City Auditor Terry Scott, County Commissioner Theresa Bemiller and Stephen Rhoades of Siemens Energy.

Bemiller thought the meeting was very worthwhile. “I think it's very interesting to listen to the challenges they have and see how theirs compares to ours,” she said. “I think it's interesting that they are interested in the emotional aspect of President Trump. I got a lot out of it.”

Mount Vernon Payless shoe store to close

MOUNT VERNON - Payless Shoes today announced in a news release that the local store in Knox Village Square will be closing as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

"This is a difficult, but necessary, decision driven by the continued challenges of the retail environment, which will only intensify," CEO W. Paul Jones said in that statement.

KP placed a call to the local store and was told they have no comment. A spokesperson from Payless corporate office said, "We are not commenting on number of store associates [losing their jobs], but will make every effort to offer open positions at nearby stores to associates whose store is closing. If there is not an available opening, Payless associates will receive severance pay and, if eligible, benefits to help in their career transition.

400 Payless outlets are closing across the country, ten in Ohio. In addition to the Mount Vernon store the closures include: 2 in Columbus (Eastland Mall and S. High St.), Lancaster, 3 stores in Cincinnati area, Akron, Elyria, Lima, and Massilon.

Mount Vernon's retail landscape is changing as Payless is just down the sidewalk from the recently closed KMart store. MC Sports, on Coshocton Road which opened in November is going out of business soon. 

Gov. Kasich talks creating diversified economy in State of State address

SANDUSKY - Ohio Governor John Kasich delivered his annual State of the State address in Sandusky near Lake Erie Tuesday. Speaking at the State Theatre, Kasich told elected officials and fellow Ohioans gathered that he is working to keep Lake Erie clean and employment rate up.  He says Ohio is up 460,000 jobs citing manufacturing, agriculture, and cloud-computing as part of innovation in the state.  

He also discussed tax reform as a way to spur the economy. Critics, and particularly those in local governments, have said that the tax cuts he has brought to the state have come at a cost to municipalities.  Township trustees are among those here in Knox County who have voiced concerns about how the state budget has been balanced on the backs of local governments.Townships don't receive as much state money as they did in previous years to help with things such as township road maintenance.  

To read the text of the governor's speech click here.


Statements released on death of retired Sheriff Barber

MOUNT VERNON - Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer released the following statement regarding the death of retired sheriff David Barber:

At approximately 12:13pm on Sunday April 2, 2017 officers responded to the residence of retired sheriff David Barber after he was discovered deceased by family members.

Mr. Barber appeared to have died from a gunshot wound. His death appears to be the result of a suicide, however an autopsy is being conducted as part of the investigation.

David Barber served as the Sheriff of Knox County from 1993 to 2013.

Knox County Coroner Dr. Jennifer Ogle also released a statement saying that Barber died of a single gunshot wound to the left chest (not head as stated in original report). Dr. Ogle said, "At this point, no foul play is suspected. However, the investigation is ongoing and will be treated with the same sensitivity and attention as any other coroner's case in Knox County. A forensic autopsy is being performed today, this should give us a definitive manner of death."

Related KP news:

The community has reacted to the news of Barber's passing. You can read that article here.

To listen to a clip from an audio interview with Sheriff Barber at his retirement party click here. 

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