Nineteen people have been charged in raids targeting drug traffickers linked to Mexican cartels with arsenals of weapons, including machine guns, who shipped fentanyl by courier from Arizona to Indiana.
As part of the operation, federal, state and local law enforcement officers from 16 agencies served arrest warrants and search warrants Thursday at 18 locations in central Indiana and Utah. Arizona, officials said in a news release. Sixteen people were arrested and taken into federal custody. Three are fugitives – Jaraughn Bertram, 20, Jordan Sumner, 22 and Joaquin Carranza, 18.
“The reason we’re doing this is because the drug dealers that’s out there, the people running out there, running around with guns, you know, shooting people, killing people, putting our community at risk,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Myers said in a press conference Friday. “They need to hear that this is what is coming, that federal law enforcement, state law enforcement, local law enforcement, we are working together to identify the worst offenders. We’ll spend whatever time it takes to identify everyone involved, to find where you’re hiding your drugs, where you’re hiding your weapons. We will get warrants. We will seize them. We will sue you and seek to hold you accountable in court.
According to court documents and information presented in open court, two men are accused of leading drug trafficking organizations in central Indiana that moved large amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine from Arizona to Indianapolis. .
The organizations allegedly possessed and used weapons converted into fully automatic firearms.
They used machine gun conversion devices – “Glock switches” or “auto-sears” – which convert ordinary semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic machine guns, authorities said.
During the year-long investigation, authorities seized more than 320,000 fentanyl pills, more than 117 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 453 pounds of marijuana, 113 firearms, 60 machine gun conversion devices and more of $521,000 in cash. If convicted, each defendant faces life in federal prison, officials said.
Myers said the deadly fentanyl pills were designed to look like legitimate pharmaceuticals, but were “filled with poison.”
The bad, he said, “could end your life.”
Authorities seized 113 firearms and 60 “Glock conversion devices”. Officers seized over half a million dollars in cash. Officials said the organization was behind many shootings in and around the Indianapolis area.
The crackdown comes as fentanyl continues to plague the United States. It is implicated in more deaths of Americans under 50 than any other cause of death, including heart disease, cancer, homicide, suicide and accident, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced,” said Administrator Anne Milgram. “Fentanyl is everywhere. From major metropolitan areas to rural America, no community is immune to this poison.
The ATF announced Friday that it is offering three awards of $5,000 each for information leading to Carranza, Bertram and Sumner. Carranza was last in the Phoenix area, while the whereabouts of Bertram and Sumner are unknown.
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