TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Federal agents said this methamphetamine case proves drug trafficking and violence do go hand in hand.
Agents began investigating the group in January.
They said it took the work of the DEA, State's Attorney, local police, even the IRS to bring the group down, using wiretaps and undercover agents.
As of Thursday, 15 of 19 people charged are behind bars.
Three of those charged were initially arrested in connection with an attempted Wabash Valley home invasion.
Wbaldo Ramirez, Antonio Rodriguez, and Eddie Grisham face charges stemming from their involvement in a Pimento home invasion in June.
Authorities said the men broke into the home looking for drug money owed to the ring.
And they were directed by Mario Rodas.
Rodas, who is also known as Ruben Echavarria, may also sound familiar.
He was arrested Wednesday morning after being found with a pound of meth in his car.
"Ruben was basing his operation out of Washington, Ind., actually, but the drugs were being distributed all throughout the Wabash Valley," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Blackington said.
Police said the drugs were coming from Mexico through Chicago to the Wabash Valley.
The IRS tracked the group through a Bank of America account in Salem, Ill.
They said members of the ring deposited more than $40,000 since August into the Salem account.
Then, members in Chicago would withdraw that money.
Now, in addition to charges for distributing meth, several also face money laundering charges.
Federal agents said more charges tied to this ring could be coming.
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The following information was released Thursday by the U.S. Attorney's Office:
INDIANAPOLIS - Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, announced the indictment of 19 methamphetamine traffickers, which was unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Terre Haute. Law enforcement officers from the region participated in the execution of arrest and search warrants related to the investigation on persons and residences in the Vincennes and Washington area. The indictment was the result of an investigation directed by the Evansville office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Marshal's Service, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Indiana State Police, Vincennes Police Department, Washington Police Department, Daviess County Sheriff's Department, Vigo County Sheriff's Department, Terre Haute Police Department, and Gibson County Sheriff's Department.
A federal grand jury returned one indictment in the case, which charged a total of nineteen individuals.
The indictment contained eleven counts and charged the following individuals:
Jose Vasquez-Silva, Chicago, Illinois and Washington, Indiana
Pedro Saul Trigo-Lopez, Chicago, Illinois
Ruben Echavarria, Washington, Indiana
Mario Aguayo-Ascazar, Washington, Indiana
Mindy White, Washington, Indiana
Anthony Nail, Vincennes, Indiana
Ashley N. Thrasher, Washington, Indiana
John M. Gootee, Bedford, Indiana
Robbie L. Burris, Loogootee, Indiana
Adam R. Lett, Bicknell, Indiana
James G. Decker, Washington, Indiana
Jeremy D. Mandabach, Washington, Indiana
Heidi Lopez-Jarra, Chicago, Illinois and Washington, Indiana
Melissa M. Serrano, Bicknell, Indiana
Wbaldo Coronado Ramirez, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Antonio Rodriguez, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Eddie Wayne Grisham, Vincennes, Indiana
Pablo LNU, Washington, Indiana
Charlene Chambers, Washington, Indiana
Fourteen of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The indictment charges that Vasquez-Silva and Echavarria coordinated the activities of a methamphetamine distribution organization operating in the Vincennes and Washington areas. Trigo, a resident of Chicago, served as a methamphetamine source for the organization. The primary distributors for Silva and Echavarria included White, Ascazar, Nail, Thrasher, Gootee, Burris, Lett, Decker, Mandabach, Pablo LNU, and Chambers.
Eight of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. These individuals include Vasquez-Silva, Trigo, Echavarria, White, Nail, Thrasher, Lopez-Jarra, and Serrano.
Four defendants were charged with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats or violence (known as the "Hobbs Act"). The indictment charges that Echavarria, Ramirez, Rodriguez, and Grisham conspired to take possession of drug proceeds from the interstate trafficking of methamphetamine from a residence located at 13100 South U.S. Highway 41, Apartment 1, Pimento, Indiana on June 28, 2010.
Initial hearings will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, December 10, 2010, for some of the defendants before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Terre Haute.
The indictment is an allegation only, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial or by guilty plea.
Local Marines helped spread some holiday cheer today.
Terre Haute Police filed citations against one Terre Haute towing business earlier this year. Andrews Towing and investigators were in city court Friday morning for the first time.
Seven new Indiana Conservation Officers officially joined the DNR Division of Law Enforcement during graduation ceremonies Friday at the Indiana Government Center South.
TRAFFIC ALERT: Martin County Deputies are requesting travelers to avoid U.S. 231 north of Loogootee. Due to many slide off accidents, traffic is backed up over a mile in several places
Right on cue, Thursday’s early winter storm dumped snow and ice on the Wabash Valley but county highway crews were a step ahead of the weather’s arrival pre-treating the 897 miles of pavement in the county.
A fire has engulfed the First Prairie Creek Church in Vigo County.