INDIANAPOLIS – A prison inmate ran a drug ring involving at least three Indiana prisons that sold heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs around the state using cellphones smuggled in by guards, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday that charges 40 people in connection with the scheme.
Among the inmates charged is alleged ringleader Oscar Perez, who's serving time for murder and attempted murder. Prosecutors allege he coordinated drug sales on city streets and once conference called using smuggled cellphones with two other inmates, housed in different prisons, about "pooling their financial resources" to get a discount on heroin.
At least 17 people appeared in court Wednesday in Indianapolis after about 300 FBI agents fanned out across the state and made arrests. Prosecutors said the defendants were flight risks, and the judge ordered them to remain in custody.
The indictment alleges that Perez and another prison inmate, Justin Addler, used cellphones to oversee the purchase of "large amounts" of heroin from a source in Chicago.
"Once acquired, the heroin was brought from Illinois to Indiana by the use of couriers where it was, in turn, distributed on the streets to various places" in central and southern Indiana, according to the 31-page indictment.
The activity occurred at the Westville Correction Facility in northern Indiana, the Wabash Valley Correction Facility in southwestern Indiana and the Pendleton Correctional Facility northeast of Indianapolis, according to the indictment.
Court documents allege that one corrections officer, Jon Dobbins, was found "in possession" of nearly 21 grams of a mixture and substance containing meth, and had a cellphone that he intended to "clandestinely bring" into the prison and leave with an inmate.
Dobbins didn't have a listed phone number in Indiana, according to phone records. He was the only prison guard named in the indictment, though the document refers to multiple prison guards being involved.
U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Tim Horty said prosecutors had no comment on the indictment. He confirmed that Dobbins was the only correctional officer named in the indictment, though he wouldn't comment on whether additional indictments are expected.
The Indiana Department of Correction issued a statement saying it has been cooperating with the FBI since the investigation began and that that department uncovered the evidence that led to Dobbins.