Multi-agency raids prove Mexican drug cartel presence in Indianapolis, police say

In the pre-dawn darkness, a convoy of more than a dozen state, federal and local police vehicles, led by an armored Indiana State Police SWAT wagon, rolled up on the house with the red door in Indianapolis’ southeast side. Investigators were looking for the man known to run the Indianapolis branch of a drug ring with direct connections to Mexico that brought heroin and methamphetamine to the streets of the city. But they weren't sure he was home.

A few minutes after six, as the vehicles crept quietly up the street, some with headlights dimmed, a flashbang device, designed to stun the residents inside, went off.

"I woke up to a big old bang we didn't know what it was," said one nearby resident. "I think it was a flash bomb they threw in the house. It shook our whole house."

In a series of coordinated raids citywide, 175 agents served 20 search warrants in pursuit of drugs and guns and money and people.

About 25 names were listed, and within hours, nearly everyone on that roster was in handcuffs, including the ringleader who came home from Chicago overnight.

He was escorted out of the house with a friend and two women while relatives arrived to look after the children left behind.

"They seem pretty quiet, I mean, when you talk to them during the day, they'll say, ‘Hi,' or something when they pull up, but, I mean, that's about it," said the neighbor. "It's crazy to think it's right next door, but, I don't know what to think about all of it."

More than 20 pounds of drugs, some cash and 16 guns, at least one of them stolen, turned up in the raids that reached the northside, which investigators said prove the presence of the Mexican cartels in Indianapolis.

"We all the time see traffic in and out of the house, I mean, constantly cars parked over on the side street. There's been anywhere up to 20 cars come in one day, back and forth," said another resident. "They come and go at all weird hours of the night…Like I said, they'll come over and stay for a while and leave, or they'll just stop by for five minutes and leave."

Investigators learned about the operation in March 2015, and they claim the suspects are responsible for importing tens of thousands of dollars' worth of drugs into central Indiana. The suspects used multiple phones and changed phone numbers frequently to avoid detection, investigators said.

"Drug trafficking is a violent business, you have people who commit robberies, murder to protect their turf," said Ryan Mear with the Marion County Prosecutors Office.

Many of the suspects made initial appearances in U.S. District Court. They face a 10-year prison sentence and a $1 million fine, if convicted.

"When you bring these drugs into central Indiana there's going to be significant consequences and we are ready to deal and tackle these problems," said Mears.

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