INDIANAPOLIS – This week federal prosecutors dismantled a major multi-state drug trafficking ring in Indianapolis.
A federal grand jury returned indictments against 21 people as part of a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine.
“This was a big win for the city of Indianapolis getting these people off the street,” said Mike Gannon, DEA assistant special agent in charge.
According to federal prosecutors, the wide-ranging investigation involved 22 different law enforcement agencies. This week, officers served search and arrest warrants at 25 locations across Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, as well as Los Angeles, California.
In addition to making multiple arrests, officers seized 43 firearms, $300,000 in cash, four ounces of methamphetamine, one kilogram of cocaine and two kilograms of fentanyl.
“One of the reasons we’ve prioritized investigating people involved in trafficking fentanyl and other opioids is because the danger these drugs pose,” said United States attorney Zachary Myers.
Myers believes the case could prevent violence and fatal drug overdoses. The DEA claims even a tiny amount of fentanyl can prove fatal.
“A kilogram of fentanyl has enough potential fatal dosage units to kill 500,000 people. So the two kilograms we seized yesterday could have been enough to kill everybody in Indianapolis,” said Gannon.
According to the federal indictment unsealed this week, the drug ring operated from June 2021 through July 2022. Federal prosecutors characterized 56-year-old Keith Jones, an Indianapolis resident, as the kingpin. He also went by the nickname “Keybo.”
Jones obtained drugs, including meth, fentanyl and cocaine, from Kevin Backstrom, a Los Angeles resident who was considered his chief supplier, investigators said. Backstrom shipped various amounts of drugs to different locations, including residences, strip malls and store parking lots. Jones took the point in distributing them for sale.
The two used fake names on the packages to mask the identity of the recipients. Multiple individuals charged in the indictment received the drugs, delivered them to Jones’ associates and then shipped the proceeds back to Backstrom, according to court documents.
Investigators said Jones even used his own 12-year-old daughter to facilitate some of the transactions.
Some of the drugs were taken to an individual in Fort Wayne for distribution.
The indictment laid out several times in which Jones or a member of the group received or attempted to receive a shipment of drugs. In all, the indictment listed 33 “overt acts” that served as drug transactions or attempted transactions.
Most of the transactions were fairly routine; Jones or a member of the group received a package containing drugs from California and then sent them off for redistribution. In many cases, Backstrom, considered Jones’ chief supplier, sent the drugs from parcel shipping businesses located in California.
On Jan. 10, 2022, Jones directed another member of the alleged conspiracy to receive a package shipped from California to a Brownsburg address. The box originally contained 25 pounds of methamphetamine; however, police had intercepted the package and replaced the meth with a “non-controlled substance.” After receiving the package, the individual tried to deliver it to Jones, according to the indictment.
On April 20, 2022, Jones accepted a delivery of large box of cocaine from Mark Thompson, a New Jersey man who investigators believe worked for a different California cocaine supplier named as “John Doe” in the indictment. Jones accepted the box at a strip mall and took it to an apartment. He also delivered more than $340,000 in drug money for Thompson to take back to California.
On two occasions in June, Jones had FaceTime calls with Backstrom in which he “ordered” large quantities of meth, according to the indictment.
The drug ring spanned the metro. Red dots on the map represent each location where prosecutors said the group shipped or distributed drugs starting last June.
“The message is if you’re going to deal poison in our community, we’re going to hold you accountable,” said Gannon.
On June 17, 2022, Jones used his daughter for a pair of drug transactions, investigators said. He agreed to distribute 250 grams of cocaine to an individual. The indictment said Jones’ daughter facilitated the transaction.
On that same day, another member of the alleged drug conspiracy arrived at an apartment to hand over $19,500 in drug money. Jones had his daughter let the individual into the apartment, the indictment said.
This case was the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), IRS Criminal Investigations, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Drug Task Force, the Hamilton/Boone County Drug Task Force, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The following individuals have been arrested or ordered to appear in federal court:
- Keith Jones, aka “Keybo” 56, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments
- Kevin Backstrom, 56, of Los Angeles; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments
- Jamie Rayner, 32, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments
- Imany Jones, 30, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments
- Tameka Washington, 47, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- Jerry Bibbs, 54, of Ft. Wayne; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- Emmanuel O’Hara, 24, of Ft. Wayne; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- Danyale Buchanan, 52, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- Charles Davis, 37, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- LaDonna Jones, 38, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- Anthony Moore, 36, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- Marcus Miles, aka “Old Hat” 47, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- Steve Young, aka “Friday” 39, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- Sean Devonish, 44, of Indianapolis; Conspiracy to distribute controlled substances
- Katrina Green, 50, of Indianapolis; Maintaining drug involved premises
- Fredrick Garner, 52, of Indianapolis; Unlawful use of communication facility
- Nicholas Ray, 31, of Indianapolis; Possession of cocaine hydrochloride with intent to distribute
- Theodore Poinsett, Jr., aka “Grover” 41, of Indianapolis; Possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute
- William Starks, 58, of Indianapolis; Possession of cocaine hydrochloride with intent to distribute
Jesse Wells contributed to this story.