Multi-agency raids across Indianapolis target drug cartel; more than 20 arrested

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 17. 2015) -- In the pre-dawn darkness a convoy of more than a dozen state, federal and local vehicles, led by an armored Indiana State Police SWAT wagon, rolled up on the house with the red door in the 1100 block of Worcester Avenue on the city’s 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.

At 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, and shocked neighbors, too.

“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 feds and narcs and troopers and officers served 20 search warrants in pursuit of drugs and guns and money and people.

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 escorted out of the house on Worcester along 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 throughout the northside to the Mars Hills area on the southwest side 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 twenty cars come in one day, back and forth,” said another resident. “They come and go at all weird hours of the night. Just a lot of Hispanic males in and out constantly. 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 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 where they could face ten year prison sentences and one million dollar fines 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.

Federal Charges:

  • Alfonso-Pineda-Hernandez, a/k/a Flaco, 30
  • Nicolas Cazares-Garcia, a/k/a Niko, 28
  • Aurelio Estrada-Alvarado, a/k/a Winn, 20
  • Jose Trinidad- Garcia Jr., 32
  • Miguel Barragan-Lopez, 35
  • Mario Gomez-Cano, 20
  • Javier Sarabia-Gutierrez, a/k/a Cholo, 30
  • Fernando Paniagua, 22
  • Cynthia Vergara, 24
  • Francisa Vasquez-Casimiro, 45

Fugitives:

  • Jose Araujo-Orduno, a/k/a Cuervo , 18
  • Oswaldo Rendon, a/k/a Junior, 22

State Charges:

  • Billy Buchanan, 20, Indianapolis
  • Cassandra Crank, 24, Indianapolis
  • Jessica Crank, 23, Indianapolis
  • Zachary Daniels, 21, Indianapolis
  • Raul Guitierrez, 29, Indianapolis
  • Ronald Lee, 47, Indianapolis,
  • Andres Martinez, 30, Indianapolis
  • Isreal Vasquez, 27, Indianapolis
  • Joseph Vasquez, 18, Indianapolis

Still at Large:

  • Frederico Gonzalez-Ortega, 31, Indianapolis
  • Johnathon Perkinson, 24, Indianapolis
  • Shannon Rayas, 42, Indianapolis
  • Simon Ruiz, 24, Indianapolis

Prosecutors said the federal charges carry a sentence from 10 years to life in prison, a $1,000,000 fine and years of supervised release.

"These aren't the people on the corner selling the small amount of marijuana or small amount of cocaine these individuals are the suppliers," said Mears.

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