Police dismantle ‘large-scale’ marijuana distribution network, seize more than $4.5 million

File photo of marijuana.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Federal charges were announced Friday against six Indy-area residents for their alleged roles in what authorities call a “large-scale marijuana distribution network” in central Indiana.

The suspects face charges of conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms (about 2,205 pounds) or more of marijuana, money laundering and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The arrested suspects include Joseph Pickett, 46, of Indianapolis, Darrell Pickett, 52, of Indianapolis, Sheila Stepp, 54, of Indianapolis, Leonard Allen Jr., 48, of Mooresville, Kelly Jo Spinks Jr., 33, of Speedway and William Belew Jr., 32, of Martinsville.

Between June 2015 and March 2017, the drug trafficking organization was lead by Joseph Pickett, Darrell Picket and Spinks. They allegedly traveled to California to obtain between 100 and 400 pounds of marijuana on each trip before bringing it back to Indianapolis.

Officials say on at least 20 occasions, members of the organization few by commercial airlines to obtain the drugs. A motor home was also driven to a California home for the same purpose.

The marijuana was stored in storage facilities on Indianapolis’ west side and the suspects would remove various amounts to be sold.

“Drug dealing brings guns and violence into our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler. “Those who feel they can deal drugs without consequences in this district should think again.”

Officers seized 181 firearms, seven of which were stolen in Indiana, 21 vehicles, two motor homes, 16 motorcycles, $19,000 in jewelry, more than $4.5 million in cash and 280 pounds of “high-grade” marijuana.

“We are extremely thankful for our federal partnerships that continue to help us rid our streets of illegal narcotics,” said IMPD Chief Bryan Roach. “Federal, State, and Local law enforcement efforts will continue to keep the pressure on those who choose to participate in illegal narcotics selling in our community.”

Allen faces up to 10 years imprisonment and all other defendants face 10 years to life if convicted.