16 suspects ordered to serve 323 combined years in federal prison after Kokomo drug ring is dismantled

Crimetracker

KOKOMO, Ind. — Federal prosecutors on Wednesday celebrated the work done to dismantle a major drug trafficking ring in Kokomo.

At the same time, the United States Attorney announced he’s stepping away from the office.

Dubbed “Operation Law and Order,” in May 2018 police and federal agents seized guns and drugs from 13 homes in Kokomo and broke up a drug ring that spanned state lines.

“You had Atlanta providing significant drugs to Kokomo. So not only did we take out the leader in Atlanta, we took out the whole organization in Kokomo,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Gannon.

Court records accused two men, Pierre Riley and Reggie Balentine, of leading the drug ring.

Earlier this month Riley, who allegedly supplied drugs from Georgia, became the last defendant to be sentenced in federal court.

Both Riley and Balentine were ordered to serve more than 40 years in prison.

In all, 16 suspects were sentenced to federal prison since the case began. Combined those defendants will have to serve 323 years behind bars.

“There’s some really long sentences here. Some of these people will never get out of prison and we hope that deters others,” said United States Attorney Josh Minkler.

Prosecutors claim the investigation also foiled a murder for hire plot, after these two men were allegedly paid $10,000 to try and kill a Kokomo resident.

“Hitmen came to this area to kill people and it was incredible work from everyone to prevent that from happening,” said Gannon. “You had people terrorizing this community and putting poison in the street, using fear, violence and intimidation for their drug trafficking. The message is we’re not going to tolerate that.”

On Wednesday Minkler handed out awards to five officers for their work on the case.

Minkler also announced he’s resigning as the United States Attorney at the end of the week. He hopes this case serves as an good example of his work during his time in the office.

“My hope is one of the legacies I leave is federal and local law enforcement can work very well together,” said Minkler.

In addition to the federal crimes, the two suspects in the murder for hire case were charged in state court.

One of those cases is still pending. The other suspect was sentenced to 35 years.

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