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CINCINNATI (AP) — A veteran of a small suburban Cincinnati police force has been indicted on federal charges of conspiring to smuggle marijuana across the country through methods that included hiding it in the gas tanks of cars.
Bryon Roos, an officer in North College Hill, is among 11 men indicted on charges of conspiring to bring hundreds of kilograms of marijuana to southern Ohio from Texas, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for Ohio’s southern district. The indictment unsealed Tuesday charges all of the men — eight from southwest Ohio and three from Texas — with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.
Roos also is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering and illegally structuring financial transactions, according to the July 25 indictment.
Roos, 42, told the North College Hill police department about the allegations Tuesday and was placed on unpaid leave pending the case’s outcome, police Chief Gary Foust said.
“None of this alleged conduct was done in performance of his duties, but our obligation is to the community,” Foust said Wednesday.
He said the city of about 10,000 has an expectation of being able “to have confidence and trust in their police department.”
A department statement describes Roos as a decorated officer who has received numerous commendations and awards, including a medal of valor for rescuing a woman from a burning residence in 2011.
His attorney, H. Louis Sirkin, did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.
Federal authorities say the conspiracy began around June 2006 when another defendant began receiving shipments of marijuana hidden in the gas tanks of vehicles at a Cincinnati auto business. He and Roos would operate used car businesses to launder illegal drug proceeds and provide “what appeared to be a legitimate source of income,” the government said in a news release.
The indictment also alleges that marijuana was shipped in crates containing tile and granite countertop bars transported by commercial freight companies to various locations in Hamilton County and adjoining Butler County before it was broken down and distributed.
Authorities also say $83,990 in cash was stashed inside the tire of a vehicle being towed to Texas last year, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Some of those involved in the conspiracy also laundered money from the trafficking by buying 11 pieces of real estate and a boat, according to U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart. By 2006, the marijuana was stored and processed at a Hamilton County farmhouse and a building in Fairfield, among other places, the indictment states.
Conviction of conspiracy to distribute and possess marijuana with the intent to distribute could net each defendant from 10 years to up to life in prison. Conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and illegally structuring financial transactions is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
By LISA CORNWELL