Case involving kidnapped teens shows how violent drug trade can be

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 5, 2015) - When three gunmen showed up at a home in the 1200 block on North LaSalle, they reportedly asked "where is the money?" The two adults in the house said they didn't know where the money was so the men tied them up and kidnapped teens Emma and Arron Blackwell.

Police believe the kidnapping stems from a drug dispute. The teens' half sister, Whitney Blackwell, admitted to stealing money from her ex-boyfriend, an alleged drug dealer out of Detroit. Exactly how much she's accused of taking is unclear. Blackwell told FOX59 she stole $43,000 during a jailhouse interview. The alleged dealer "Jay" told federal authorities she stole $120,000, a kilo of cocaine and 4,000 Oxycontin pills.

"The incident represented, it's symptomatic of the underlying criminal activity that we're trying so hard to combat," said W. Jay Abbott, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Indianapolis Division.

The kidnappers held the teens for ransom and made demands to have the money dropped off in Miami. As police arrested Whitney Blackwell on an outstanding traffic warrant she yelled at her brother Stanley Pernell to get the money and get her out of jail. Pernell was arrested later that day when undercover officers watched him break into a house in the 1500 block of Goodlet. He was found with $100 and a bag of marijuana.

"Well there is a lot of money in the trade, there's a lot of potential violence in the trade," said  Capt. David Allender with IMPD.

Pernell is facing charges of burglary and conspiracy to commit dealing cocaine. He appeared in court for his initial hearing Thursday morning. Blackwell is also facing charges related to dealing cocaine.

Six people are facing federal kidnapping charges, including John "Jay" Thomas. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office said additional charges could be filed and others could still face federal charges in this case.