DEA Alleges Ohio Jeweler Helped Launder Drug Money

In an indictment unsealed Tuesday in Southern District of Ohio federal court, prosecutors charged that Cincinnati retailer Tri-State Jewelers was part of conspiracy to launder money from a multimillion-dollar drug ring.

The indictment alleges that between December 2018 and April 2019, a drug ring that sold cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl stored—at least temporarily—approximately $2.5 million in cash at the retailer, which is located on Race Street in the city’s downtown.

The indictment charges 36 people for taking part in the alleged narcotics and money-laundering conspiracy—among them, Vyacheslav Minyalo, also known as “Slavik,” who was described as Tri-State Jewelers’ authorized representative and statutory agent, and Yossi Ilouz, who was described as Tri-State’s manager since 2014. Minyalo is also described as the vice president for National Automotive Group, another local business that was cited in the complaint.

The indictment charges that the store failed to comply with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reporting requirements, which mandate that businesses that conduct a cash transaction exceeding $10,000, including two or more related transactions, file a report with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The indictment alleges the defendants repeatedly accepted cash for a variety of jewelry items—including $15,000 for the sale of a diamond ring in June.

The IRS rules governing the mandatory reporting requirements for cash transactions of more than $10,000 can be seen here.

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents conducted a raid on the store last week, according to local news reports.

DEA spokesperson Brian McNeal said the assets of the store were seized at that time, including its jewelry.

DEA agents seized from the 36 conspirators around 19 pounds of fentanyl, three pounds of heroin, 100 pounds of cocaine, and 42 pounds of methamphetamine, according to a statement from the agency.

“This wasn’t just a big seizure for Cincinnati,” says McNeal. “This was a big seizure for any jurisdiction. This was a big win to get that much drugs off the street.”

Neither the jeweler nor the defendants could be reached for comment.

(Image via: Facebook)

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JCK News Director