Over 30 people indicted in major drug bust
Cat Andersen/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - Dozens of people are under arrest after a $1.5 million cocaine bust in Indianapolis.
"This all started out as a small buy, a hand-to-hand by," said Indianapolis Metro Police Chief Paul Ciesielski, speaking at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
What started out as a $150 purchase of cocaine in July by undercover officers on the city's west side turned into $1.5 million in cocaine seized by the middle of December.
"This was poison coming onto our streets here on the west side of Indianapolis," said the chief.
Metro Police, the Marion County prosecutor's office, along with federal agents and several other policing agencies, spent months under cover, staking out homes and tracking drug deals as they worked their way up the food chain of a major drug ring.
"They then moved up to a larger dealer capable of providing pound quantities," said Josh Minkler, assistant US attorney.
In all, they confiscated 48 kilos of cocaine, worth $1.5 million, 4.4 pounds of methamphetamine valued at $80,000, 184 pounds of marijuana, 18 guns, and almost $70,000 in currency.
25 individuals were arrested on state charges.
The federal indictment charged eight individuals with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute both powder cocaine and methamphetamine:
- Gerardo Benitez-Arellano, 33, of Indianapolis and Mexico
- Agustin Lozano, 34, of Indianapolis and Mexico
- Rene Israel Ortega, 34, of Lombard, Il and Mexico
- Juan Carlos Torres, 35, of Indianapolis and Honduras
- Erika Vazques-Joachin, 27, of Indianapolis and Mexico
- Victor Dominguez-Ruiz, 28, of Indianapolis and Mexico
- Claudia Del Cid Paz, 25, of Indianapolis and Honduras
- Guadalupe Ivara, 30, of Crest Hill, IL and Mexico
Most of the defendants, if convicted, face possible 10-year minimum mandatory prison sentences.
"With these 32 individuals no longer on the streets, it is fair to say Indianapolis is a more peaceful place today," said Joe Hogsett, US attorney.
One person remains at large: 30-year-old Guadalupe Ivara, who investigators say lives in Crest Hill, Illinois and is a Mexican citizen. Investigators say Ivara and the majority of those arrested in this case are illegal immigrants. They say the massive drug bust sends home a message.
"You will be identified. You will be investigated and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said Hogsett.
Investigators believe those arrested were responsible for distributing up to five pounds of meth and up to ten pounds of cocaine a month to the Indianapolis area.
The following agencies participated in the investigation:
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
Marion County Prosecutor's Office
The Drug Enforcement Administration
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Homeland Security Investigations
Internal Revenue Service - OIG
Carmel, Indiana Police Department
Hamilton County, Indiana Sheriff's Office
Hancock, County, Indiana County Sheriff's Office
City of Lawrence Police Department