TERRE HAUTE, Ind (WTHI) - Authorities busted a major drug operation in the Wabash Valley Wednesday morning. One wanted fugitive is still on the loose.
It's the culmination of a 7-month long investigation led the FBI Wabash Valley Safe Streets Task Force. Federal agents have netted more than $100,000 worth of meth, 33 guns including four assault rifles and two pipe bombs. Law enforcement also purchased and seized more than two pounds of "crystal" methamphetamine, as well as seized approximately $27,000 in cash.
Police officers also seized two pipe bombs.
They also pulled five children from various locations.
Approximately 150 law enforcement officers swarmed on a dozen locations in Vigo County during the early hours of Wednesday morning. Other officers executed warrants at several other locations in Indiana. Thirteen people were indicted on drug charges in U.S. District Court.
- Jesse James Linares, 32, currently of Mishawaka, Ind.
- Jesus L. Ramos (a.k.a. "Zeus"), 38, currently of Crown Point, Ind.
- Gregory R. Miller, 29, of Terre Haute
- Brian Denny, 30, of Terre Haute
- Chad Noble, 33, of Terre Haute
- Curtis Bilyou, 33, of Terre Haute
- Edward Weatherspoon (a.k.a. "Knucklehead"), 36, of Terre Haute
- Constantino Cejas, 46, of Indianapolis
- Nicholas Ceja, 39, of Indianapolis
- Steven Gulley, 51, of Terre Haute
- Samuel Moran, 26, of Brazil, Ind.
- Elisha M. Charles, 32, of Terre Haute
- Michael Bennett, 33, of Terre Haute
As of Wednesday evening, all individuals had been arrested except for Chad Noble. He remains a wanted fugitive by federal agents.
"It's a significant success story for Terre Haute," U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett, said. "It's a significant success story for law enforcement here in the Wabash Valley."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthias Onderak said the ring distributed meth brought up from Mexico for at least a couple years.
The federal indictment calls Linares and Ramos the suppliers. Cejas and Ceja are listed as couriers. Detectives said Miller is the local ringleader who distributed to Bennett, Bilyou, Charles, Denny, Gulley, Moran, Noble and Weatherspoon.
Agents said the investigation began on August 25, 2010, when authorities seized 454 grams of meth from Noble in Effingham County, Illinois that was destined for Terre Haute. Detectives said that was the red flag that alerted authorities to a potential high-level drug ring and began "Operation Octane".
The indictment lists more than 50 overt acts between various members of the drug ring. It details various drug deals, monetary payments, phone calls and text messages between members listed on the indictment.
Initial hearings are scheduled for Friday morning before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Terre Haute for 10 of the defendants. Linares and Ramon appeared in federal court for the Northern District of Indiana Wednesday. Defendant Chad Noble remained a fugitive as of Wednesday evening. If convicted, each defendant faces between 10 years in prison to life imprisonment without parole.
Agencies assisting the FBI were the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Indiana State Police, Vigo County Sheriff's Department, Clay County Sheriff's Department, Terre Haute Police and Seelyville Police.
Four others were also arrested at the various locations on various local warrants. They are Dawn Cartledge, Jeffrey Cork, Chelsie Elkins and Susan Gulley.
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