Feds: Drug ring flooded Scott County with meth and Opana, leading to HIV outbreak; 10 people arrested

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SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 5, 2016)-- Federal, local and state authorities served several search warrants and took 10 people into custody Friday morning in connection with a drug ring in Scott County.

"It's been a busy morning here for us in Scott County," said Sheriff Dan McClain.

Authorities took the alleged ring leader, Bennito Rodriguez, and his girlfriend, Brooklynn Mack, from a home in the 900 block of West Owen Street in Scottsburg, Ind., around 6 a.m. Federal Drug Enforcement Agents spent the morning removing evidence and several dogs from the house.

Over $35,000 in cash, 12 guns and one-pound of Meth and other prescription drugs were confiscated during all of the searches.

"I'll call it what it is--this is dirty money," said U.S Attorney Josh Minkler.

Officials say Rodriguez had ties to a car business  near his house in the 300 block of Gardner Street. The site was also raided and all of the vehicles were seized.

The ten people indicted in today’s sweep are accused of a variety of charges from dealing prescription pills and other illegal drugs to supplying narcotics.  They could be sentenced anywhere from 10 years to life in prison.

Police described it as a large-scale criminal organization that targeted Scott County, flooding the area with methamphetamine and the prescription painkiller Opana.

"These are people who saw a demand, infested a community with drugs  and made money off of it​," said Minkler.

Last year, Scott County experienced an HIV outbreak that health officials attributed to sharing drug needles. It is believed users crushed the pill and made it into a liquid form before injecting it. Friday’s investigation is partly in response to the increase in HIV cases. Typically, Scott County sees about 10 cases of HIV annually; in the last 13 months, 188 cases have been reported.

"To solve this public health ciris it takes more than arresting and incarcerating those who sell illegal drugs.  It takes prevention and treatment," said Minkler.

In addition to Indiana, search warrants were also served in Detroit and Louisville in connection with the investigation, which officials called "Operation Dire Straits." The Drug Enforcement Agency began it's investigation in June 2015, when federal and local officials began working together to find the source of drugs linked to the HIV outbreak.

"When you have a demand problem for drugs like Opana and meth, you are going to find suppliers.

Minkler said the organization behind the drug ring has been dismantled. The drugs came from several places, including Louisville, Indianapolis and Detroit. The two then set up a network to redistribute Opana and meth in Scott County.

Also indicted in the case were:

  • Rashawn A. Vaughn, 41, Louisville
  • Eric L. Gude, 36, Indianapolis
  • Rashaan S. Perkins, 21, Detroit
  • Anthony L. Hardy, 39, Indianapolis
  • James D. Haney, 56, Austin
  • Justin M. Roberts, 38, Austin
  • Travis D. Brock, 34, Scottsburg
  • Michael A. Doyle, 38, Scottsburg

Those taken into custody Friday morning will be transported to Indianapolis and will make their first court appearance in federal court Friday afternoon.