INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Federal, state and local authorities say 14 people have been arrested as they dismantled a violent, large-scale drug trafficking operation in Indianapolis.
During a news conference Tuesday morning, officials discussed “Operation Little Dipper,” which focused on IMPD’s North District.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Indiana State Police served several search warrants Friday in North District locations, taking seven people into custody and seizing guns, drugs and money. Information about the case was kept under seal until Monday. The operation also involved the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
According to U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler, officers seized 10 guns, including an AK-47, along with methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and $20,000 in cash during the Friday operation.
"When they are infesting neighborhoods with the underground sale of guns and drugs, they are infesting neighborhoods with gun violence," said Minkler.
According to the lengthy federal indictment, the investigation dates back to 2016. Court records include numerous black and white surveillance pictures that show undercover purchases of both guns and drugs.
During the course of the investigation, 45 firearms were either bought or seized.
"Every one of those illegal firearms seized was an opportunity for non-fatal shootings or a homicide," said IMPD North district commander Josh Barker.
In all 14 people are now facing federal charges and stiff penalties, while 56 others are facing state charges.
The bust follows a record setting year for murders in Indianapolis. Investigators believe the 14 suspects all share some connection to violent crimes and their arrests make the city safer.
"The people associated with this group are people whose primary goal is violence and they happen to dabble in narcotics trafficking," said Barker.
Minkler said the arrests are indicative of what cooperation among federal, state and local agencies can accomplish. He hopes the arrests send the message that violent crime will not be tolerated. He’s calling on continued federal prosecutions, which mean tougher penalties and mandatory minimum sentences.
“Violent criminals don’t care if they’re committing state or federal crimes. They just hope they don’t get caught with a gun,” Minkler said, adding that Indianapolis has asked for federal help in cracking down on violent crime.
He pledged to wield the “federal hammer” when it comes to drug- and gun-related crimes.
"There's a lot of help in the community. There are people you can turn to in order to get out of these [criminal] organizations," Minkler said. "The message is clear: if that file ends up on my desk, it's too late. There are no alternatives. It's a mandatory minimum sentence and off you go to federal prison. You're out of this community for 10, 15, 20 years--maybe to life. That's how we do things in the federal system."
Several members of the alleged drug operation are suspects in violent crimes in the North District. They referred to themselves as “Stupid Star Entertainment,” which they claimed was a rap group in northeast Indianapolis. Some of their activities came to the attention of investigators through videos posted online, investigators said.
Arrested Friday on federal charges were:
- Devon Price, 31, Indianapolis aka “Big Mike”
- William Bobo, 25, Indianapolis
- Michael Graham, 23, Indianapolis, aka “Mike-Mike”
- Alan Wann, 20, Indianapolis, aka “Boogie”
- Dujuan Terry, 21, Indianapolis, aka “Juan-Juan” aka “Youngster”
- Ricky Wilburn, 24, Indianapolis
- Henry Phillips, 25, Indianapolis
Previously in connection with the federal probe were:
- Mose Bell, 42, Indianapolis
- William Elliott, 24, Indianapolis
- Corey Gibson, 39, Indianapolis
- Tracy Holowell, 23, Indianapolis
- Derrick Motley, 27, Indianapolis
- Jonathan Talley, 25, Indianapolis
- Larry Wood, 43, Indianapolis
The defendants face up to a decade or more in prison if convicted.