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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Indianapolis Area Methamphetamine Trafficking Organization Dismantled and Twelve Defendants Arrested






INDIANAPOLIS – DECEMBER 21, 2022 - A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging eleven individuals for their alleged roles in an Indianapolis-based drug trafficking organization with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine, and related charges. An additional defendant was charged by criminal complaint with offenses related to armed methamphetamine trafficking. The indictment was unsealed on December 14, 2022, following their arrests and initial appearances, and is being announced following hearings on the pretrial detention status of the defendants.


As alleged in court documents, beginning in 2021, the defendants primarily distributed methamphetamine in Indianapolis, Indiana. Erick Apolinar Romero operated out of Indianapolis and arranged for the delivery of the controlled substances to Indianapolis for their redistribution by other members of the conspiracy. Romero and Julian Islas-Lozada maintained residential properties for the purpose of stashing and distributing the illegal drugs, including an apartment in the Nora neighborhood on the north side of Indianapolis. Kevin Patino-Romero facilitated the movement of drug proceeds. The members of the conspiracy used cellular devices and code words to facilitate these drug trafficking activities. Members of the conspiracy allegedly travelled to Nebraska on multiple occasions in October and November 2022 to acquire drugs that were being smuggled by train car and bring them to Indianapolis for distribution.


On December 13, 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), along with several local and federal law enforcement agencies, executed search warrants at seven residences in Indianapolis and arrested ten of the defendants charged in the indictment. Eduardo Abel Torres De Leon was apprehended in West Grove, Pennsylvania. Jose Ponciano-Felix was arrested on December 13, 2022, in Indianapolis, during the execution of one of the search warrants, and charged by criminal complaint with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.


During the life of the investigation, law enforcement officers seized approximately 408 pounds of methamphetamine; eight kilograms of fentanyl and 28 firearms. The seized firearms included several semi-automatic AR platform rifles. Approximately $32,800.00 in US Currency as well as 6 vehicles, 2 trailers, 3 all-terrain vehicles and a dirt bike were also seized.


As of December 20, 2022, eleven of the twelve defendants were ordered detained pending trial or detaining pending hearing. Richard Michael Moore was ordered released on conditions set by the Court.


The charges are as follows:

Defendant

Charge(s)

  • Erick Romero aka “Erick Bustos,” aka “Christian Ramirez,” 33, Indianapolis

Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy; Methamphetamine Distribution; Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Methamphetamine; Unlawful Use of a Communication Facility


  • Julian Islas-Lozada, aka “Chusy,” 35, Indianapolis

Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy; Methamphetamine Distribution; Unlawful Use of a Communication Facility


  • Alexander Franco-Lopez, aka “Sicario,” aka “Nino,” 19, Indianapolis

Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy; Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Methamphetamine.


  • Kevin Josue Patino-Romero, 20, Indianapolis

Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy; Methamphetamine Distribution.


  • Junior Castillo, aka “Catracho,” 35, Indianapolis

Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy; Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Methamphetamine.


  • Eduardo Perez-Martinez, aka “Cholilo,” 28, Indianapolis

Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy; Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Methamphetamine.


  • Jesus Alberto Casillas-Martinez, aka “Cholo,” 26, Indianapolis

Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy; Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Methamphetamine.

  • Zachary Polk, 45, Vincennes, Indiana

Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine.


  • Matthew Wright, 45, Greencastle, Indiana

Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine.

  • Richard Michael Moore, aka “Mike Moore,” aka “Suegro,” 54, Indianapolis

Unlawful Use of a Communication Facility


  • Eduardo Abel Torres De Leon, aka “Primo,” aka “Forty,” 29, West Grove, Pennsylvania

Unlawful Use of a Communication Facility

  • Jose Ponciano-Felix, 41, Indianapolis

*Charged by complaint

Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute, Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime

The defendants face the following possible penalties, if convicted:

  • Fentanyl and Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy 10 years to life in prison Methamphetamine Distribution and Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine 10 years to life in prison

  • Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and Methamphetamine 10 years to life in prison

  • Unlawful Use of a Communication Facility Up to 4 years in prison

  • Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. 5 years to life in prison, consecutive to any other sentence

Actual sentences are determined by a federal district court judge and are typically less than the maximum penalties.


Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Michael Gannon, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Indianapolis Field Office, Chief Randal Taylor, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Rodney Hopkins, Postal Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Detroit Division, Justin Campbell, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Chicago Field Office, and R. Sean Fitzgerald, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations Chicago, made the announcement.

This case was a result of an investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Agency, IMPD’s Drug Task Force, HSI, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and IRS-CI. The Beech Grove Police Department, Lawrence Police Department, IMPD, Indiana State Police, and the FBI assisted in the execution of search and arrest warrants.


U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jayson McGrath and Lindsay Karwoski, who are prosecuting this case.


This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.


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