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Five suspects are indicted for shipping fentanyl to Cincinnati

The Cincinnati U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed an indictment on Jan. 15 for five suspects that they allege were responsible for running an online drug trafficking operation. The co-conspirators are alleged to have shipped various drugs -- including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl -- to various recipients in southern Ohio and other states.

An investigation into the drug ring was initiated by the Southern Ohio Digitized Organized Crime Group last year. That entity then joined forces with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) Cincinnati Field Office and Organized Drug Enforcement Task Force. It's during their joint investigation that they amassed evidence of impropriety.

Evidence reportedly shows that the suspects began their online drug ring in 2013. The operations' ringleaders allegedly sold narcotics via both encrypted text messaging apps and a Dark Web marketplace.

The indicted suspects range in age from 32 to 37. All hail from Colorado, Nevada or California. Their operation reportedly generated $2.8 million in sales during the past six years.

Most of their profits came from their production and distribution of counterfeit pills that were cut with fentanyl. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost points out that their operation made it easy for individuals to get their hands on drugs. He noted that addicts no longer had to go find drugs on the street corner but could simply have them delivered to their mailbox.

All the suspects made their first appearance in a federal courtroom in Cincinnati in December. All have been charged with each of the 21 counts outlined in the indictment. It's unclear when the next hearing in the matter will be. The U.S. Attorney's Office hasn't said how much time the suspects face in prison if they're convicted.

Defendants typically face fines and prison time if they're convicted of drug possession, distribution, manufacturing or trafficking. Any charges for opioid or heroin-related offenses generally carry the harshest penalties. This is because these drugs are highly addictive.

The more counts you're charged with, the more lengthy your sentence is likely to be if you're convicted. It's key to have an experienced attorney in your corner if you've been accused of a crime. They can advise you of your rights as well as defense strategies that may be appropriate to pursue in your case.

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