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July 18, 2012

Large drug investigation nets 29 arrests

Marijuana, LSD, firearms, cocaine, $34,000, cars and jet skis confiscated.

LOGANSPORT — In one of the largest drug stings in Cass County recently, 29 suspects were arrested on federal and state felony drug charges as the culmination of a multi-agency investigation that spanned across

the state of Indiana and into Illinois.

During strike team arrests made in several counties Monday morning, officers arrested all of the targeted suspects, as well as others connected with drug activity, and seized 13 pounds of marijuana, LSD, firearms, cocaine, $34,000 in cash and cars and jet skis. Logansport Assistant Police Chief Carl Swan said the investigation originated with the Logansport Police Department in October 2011 and grew to include the Indiana State Police, the Illinois State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana.

The other agencies were called in, Swan said, as officers realized that it was a multi-jurisdictional case that crossed state lines.  

Search warrants were issued in Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Howard, Miami, and Tippecanoe counties, in Indiana, and Iroquois and Vermillion counties in Illinois.

As the investigation proceeded, the Indiana State Police formed strike teams, involving 150 to 250 officers and including some Logansport Police Department officers. The multi-agency strike teams spread out across the warrant areas and all served the warrants at 6 a.m. at Monday morning.

“This was truly a cooperative effort,” said Sgt. Tony Slocum of the Indiana State Police.

Special SWAT teams served the “higher risk warrants,” which Slocum said are perceived to be cases where entry requires more than a simple knock on the door.

The operation had a 100 percent target rate, meaning they captured all of the suspects they intended to find, as well as eight additional people, Assistant Chief Swan said.

Beyond its scale, Slocum said the target rate success of the operation makes it noteworthy.

“This is the first time I can remember ever getting every suspect we were targeting,” Slocum said.

Swan added that no one was injured in the operation.

Cass County Prosecutor Kevin Enyeart said his office has been working on the investigation for about two and a half months, with Prosecutor Andrew Achey as the primary person assigned to the cases.

“We were intricately involved,” Enyeart said.

The warrant information the prosecutor’s obtained about many of the suspects spanned several years of arrest histories, Enyeart said.

“It’s like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle,” Enyeart said.

All of the warrants for the state charges were issued Friday. But Enyeart said the warrants remain sealed for now, to protect the information they contain and the officers involved.

He added that all of the suspects remain innocent until proven guilty.

The Logansport locals who received federal charges were the suspects who launched the investigation, Swan said.

“The ones that were here locally were the ones that got our attention,” Swan said.

The conspiracy charges that most of the suspects arrested in the sting are facing mean that the suspect was “one cog in the wheel” of selling or trafficking drugs, Swan said.

Because of the connections between those involved in the drug trade, Swan said police found additional suspects.

“You arrest one and two more show up,” Swan said.

Ten of the arrested suspects will face trials in the Cass County court system.

George Setser, Dennis Wildrick, Matt Burkett, Kenneth Fox, Denise Curtis and Michael Curtis have initial hearings scheduled for Friday. Patrick Fox, Charles Flaherty and Brandon Kinser will appear on July 26. Enyeart noted that Jimmy Marshall will also likely have an initial hearing at on July 26.

 Jay Howell remains incarcerated but the date will be set as soon as charges are filed, Enyeart added.

The 10 suspects were initially placed in the Cass County Jail, but four — Burkett, Kinser, Flaherty, and Patricia Fox — had bonded out as of Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff Randy Pryor said.

The suspects who face federal charges were booked into the St. Joseph County Jail in South Bend after arraignment hearings, Slocum said.

With the large number of suspects arrested, Swan said the area should benefit from a reduction in drug activity.

“It was a big dent in the drug trafficking for the community,” Swan said.

But Swan noted that this is only one phase of ongoing drug investigations in the area.

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