Court documents: Search near Muncie related to homicide investigation, massive marijuana operation

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DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind. (Nov. 9, 2015) -- A massive search that started last week in Muncie is related to a homicide case tied to a major marijuana operation, according to court documents unsealed Monday morning.

Last week, officers served warrants at homes in Wheeling and Royerton, which are both outside Muncie city limits. Authorities said the searches were part of a lengthy investigation. The operation involved the Muncie Police Department with assistance from the Delaware County Sheriff's Department, FBI, and multiple K9 units.

The search was precipitated by an inmate at the Delaware County Jail who told investigators about the operation and said he knew the location of the body of a homicide victim. In September, the informant said he would provide investigators with specific information under the condition that he would receive immunity. The Delaware County Prosecutor's Office presented him with an immunity agreement in exchange for the information.

Police said they considered the information credible because the man's assistance led to a series of arrests related to purchases of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana.

In addition to human remains, investigators were looking for money, drugs, drug paraphernalia, firearms and records related to the alleged criminal enterprise such as phone records, bank records and any other documentation, court documents said.

Despite searching for several days, investigators confirmed they found no evidence of human remains on the property.

The former property owner, James "Buddy" Reynolds, had ties to a Mexican drug cartel, investigators said. The Wheeling farm served as a base of operations. Police said they've been receiving tips and information about Reynolds' alleged drug ties for 15 years. Reynolds eventually moved to Panama and died in 2012, police said. Police described the Reynolds operation as a "marijuana distribution empire."

The informant told investigators that Reynolds acquired marijuana in two different ways. Sometimes, he sent someone to Arizona to buy marijuana with cash; after the purchase, they'd drive the material to Indiana. Other times, the seller would deliver it, the informant said. The man estimated that Reynolds bought about 6,000 pounds of marijuana per year, selling it for $1,600 a pound after paying between $400 to $600 a pound for it.

The informant provided police with specific information about the drug ring and how it operated. He said there was also a large stash of guns on the property that Reynolds had obtained through the drug trade. He alleged that Reynolds' nephew was now running the operation.

The informant said the homicide that sparked the search happened between 2001 and 2003 on Reynolds' property. He received a phone call and delivered a backhoe to Reynolds, an associate and a third man the informant didn't recognize. They told him to get an on ATV and "go back to what he was doing." Moments later, he heard a gunshot and followed by the sounds of the backhoe. When he saw Reynolds and his associate again, the third man was not with them. Days later, the informant saw a freshly dug hole.

Image from court documents shows search area, with "X" marking the spot of the body

Image from court documents shows search area, with "X" marking the spot of the body as reported by the informant