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Last week agents at the Houston office of the Drug Enforcement Administration were searching commercial shipments when they came across crates that caught the attention of a drug canine, said Cincinnati Resident Agent-in-Charge Russell Neville.

“They called us and said they had been sending these crates to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Toledo and several other cities in the Midwest,” Neville said. “And, there are crates on their way to Cincinnati.”

The shipments were being delivered to Azteca Stone & Marble in the 100 block of Constitution Drive off of Seward Road.

Records show that nearly 16,000 pounds have been shipped to this Fairfield business since June from an undisclosed source, Neville said.

The DEA cannot verify that what came in the crates were drugs, but “a prudent person would suspect it was,” Neville said.

Last week three crates arrived in the region and the DEA got a search warrant to open one destined for Toledo, Neville said.

Inside, they found marijuana, and a Cincinnati drug dog indicated there were drugs in all three packages. This enabled Neville and his team to get an anticipatory search warrant before delivering the two other packages to Azteca Stone & Marble.

Kevin Howard arrived at the business Monday, used a fork lift to put the crates in a white van and started to pull away when the DEA, assisted by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, put him under arrest.

Howard is being held at the Campbell County Detention Center in Kentucky, where the DEA has a contract to hold local suspects, charged with distribution of illegal drugs and conspiracy, Neville said.

“This is a very well-organized drug trafficking operation,” Neville said. “When you can move drugs through multiple states and funds through several states, it’s well organized.”

Neville said other arrests are expected.

This bust follows a series of big drug busts in Hamilton County, Clermont County and Kentucky in recent weeks.

Neville said Cincinnati is not known as a “source city” – a city known for drug production or where drugs stop on their way to other cities. But it is considered a “user city.”

“There’s a lot of stuff coming in here,” Neville said. “We keep hammering away on it and keeping it down. Cincinnati police and other local law enforcement have made a major attempt to suppress drug use and distribution here.”