Public Affairs / October 17, 2013

21 Charged in Federal Drug Bust

Sam Klemet
21 Charged in Federal Drug Bust

An investigation that started in 2011 ended Thursday morning with gunfire, charges against 21 individuals, and seizure of 100 pounds of marijuana and between $80,000 and $100,000.

"When you are able to take, in a collaborative way, the efforts that were taken by law enforcement agencies this morning and dismantle a very sophisticated and violent drug traffic organization in Marion County, there is no question that this is a safer community this afternoon," said U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett.

During the execution of the search warrant, at 5937 Beachview Drive, one of the suspects of a drug trafficking organization ignored verbal commands to lower his weapon and pointed his gun at one of the detectives ‒ a police officer from Carmel.  The suspect was shot and killed.

"The officers are doing well," said Carmel Police Chief Tim Green.   "I think they have a lot of support going on.  But, currently, as standard procedure they'll be placed on administrative duties pending this investigation. But, I spoke with them earlier today and they are doing good."

The investigation launched in March 2011.   It was dubbed "Operation Five Dollar Footlong" because the trailer transporting the drug proceeds was carrying a large amount of sandwich wrappers when it was stopped.

In October 2011, authorities made multiple arrests and seized five tons of marijuana and more than $4.3 million in drug proceeds.

In total, 25 defendants have been federally charged as part of the operation and more than 15,000 pounds of marijuana and $5 million in suspected drug proceeds have been seized.

Police brought 16 defendants into custody, Thursday.

"These are heavily armed drug traffickers," said Assistant U.S. Attorney, Josh Minkler.  "If they are armed, they won't hesitate to use those firearms.  They have large amounts of money.  They have large amounts of drugs and they have to protect that from rivals, as we found out, from police actions, and they won't hesitate to use firearms to do that."

Mexican suppliers were shipping the drugs to Indianapolis.

"They probably had a sense of security that they would not be found out," said Minkler.  "But, they were and thanks to the good work of these agencies they've been eliminated."

The defendants arrested on federal charges were due in court for initial appearances, Thursday, and face up to 10 years to life on the count of conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana.