Former Hendricks County deputies arrested in spice operation
Two former Hendricks County Sheriff's deputies who lost their jobs in May due to misconduct over missing money have been arrested in connection with a synthetic drug operation.
The Hendricks County Sheriff fired Jason and Teresa Woods, ages 44 and 34, respectively, back in March. Now, state police say they were linked to people involved in one of the biggest synthetic drug rings in the state.
Police say they now have proof the couple had synthetic drugs hidden in a safe in a most unlikely place.
Homeland Security agents and the Indiana State Police found the safe in an upstairs closet in the home of Teresa Woods' mother. In fact, it was her mother and brother who became suspicious and contacted police.
Inside, agents found more than $80,000 cash and 100 grams of synthetic drugs.
This investigation dates back to October 2013, when U.S. Customs seized parcels containing synthetic drugs headed to Indianapolis. A phone number on the parcels came back to Robert Jaynes, a preacher at Irvington Bible Baptist Church and a friend of the Woods.
Jaynes also owned several warehouses on Brookville Road, where shipments of synthetic drugs were found.
Employees say marked sheriff's department police cars were often parked there. Both former deputies had also written personal checks to a Canadian distributing company that sells synthetic drug powders.
Teresa Woods' mother told police her daughter brought the safe to her home the day after Hendricks County fired the couple. Teresa Woods told investigators she and Jason were taken advantage of by people at Jaynes' church and denied knowing where the checks were going.
According to court documents, she said "everyone" knew the preacher and his associates sold "Spice" and admits she and Jason tried it when it was legal. Still, Teresa Woods said she didn't know the drugs were in the safe.
Both Jason and Teresa Woods were released an hour after their arrest on $550 bond each.
"Here's what we know about people that tend to manufacture drugs. They're in it for the money," said addictions counselor Scott Watson, of Heartland Intervention.
Watson says drugs like Spice are attractive to users because they will not usually show up on a drug test.
"Spice is basically a synthetic form of marijuana. The people that use it will tell me, that it's a lousy high, and it tastes bad," Watson said.
However, Watson says they can still be dangerous drugs.
"We really don't always know what's in it. The chemicals that are sprayed in it certainly are not created in a pharmaceutical company, they're not created in a lab. Often times they're made overseas or in somebody's basement," Watson said.
Though Watson believes Indiana is seeing less and less of these synthetic drugs, they are still out there.
"There are establishments in central Indiana where if you go in and you know the password, it's either under the counter or it's in the back room. And so it's a battle worth fighting and I think today's arrests show, that on some level, those that are fighting the battle are beginning to win," Watson said.
Earlier this year, Jason and Teresa Woods were let go for misconduct, involving a quarter of a million dollars in missing money.
Teresa Woods cried, visibly shaken with her attorney, as she heard the decision from the Hendricks County merit board. She and her husband, Jason Woods, had been fired as sheriff's deputies.
"The Hendricks County merit board hereby terminates the employment of Jason and Teresa Woods for their misconduct in this matter," read a merit board member at Tuesday's hearing.
The couple, who had a combined 20 years on the department, is accused of five violations, including conduct unbecoming an officer and failing to report a crime over missing money.
"We're supposed to be above and beyond that type of behavior and they violated that trust. They violated my trust," said Hendricks County Sheriff Dave Galloway.
This all stems from a stash of cash - $250,000 that the deputies agreed to hold onto for a friend last October. They'd admitted they kept it for the man in a safe at their Brownsburg home.
But the sheriff says he learned from a private investigator that the money disappeared when they were supposed to give it back. Jason Woods claimed he returned it during a secret meeting at a McDonald's restaurant. The other person says he never received it.
The sheriff says the whole thing just didn't add up and clearly violated their oath as officers.
"Well, they did a lot wrong. Number one, took money, held money from an unknown source - never questioned it, no receipts, nothing," Galloway said. "They didn't even question where the money came from."
What happened to the money is still a mystery.