News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 23, 2010
Contact: SA Will Taylor

Number: 312-886-2597

Drug Trafficking Organization with Ties Between Indianapolis, Chicago, and Mexico Dismantled
Eight charged federally, 25 face state charges, $1.5 million in cocaine seized

DEC 23 (Indianapolis) Joseph H. Hogsett, U.S. Attorney, and Paul Ciesielski, Chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) announced yesterday the dismantling of a drug trafficking organization operating from Mexico, to Chicago, to Indianapolis. The investigation began with a July 2010 IMPD undercover police officer purchase of three grams of cocaine for $150 on Indianapolis’ west-side. After eight months of patient and methodical police work between local and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the original small undercover purchase culminated with the seizure and confiscation of 48 kilograms (109 pounds) of cocaine, valued at $1.5 million dollars, and 4.4 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $80,000. The history of this organization suggests that they have been responsible for the regular distribution of up to five pounds of methamphetamine and 10 kilograms of cocaine per month to the Indianapolis area alone.

U.S. Attorney Hogsett said, “Today, we begin a new chapter in law enforcement in the Indianapolis community. With new energy and commitment, today’s indictment and arrests are an example of proactive and cooperative anti-drug police work at its finest. A drug bust of this significance occurs only once every couple of years. Let the message be heard loud and clear to all those who seek mayhem by trafficking in illegal narcotics, you will be identified, you will be investigated and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want to thank all of our law enforcement partners, particularly the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, for their dedication to taking this enormous amount of drugs off the street, and, therefore, making the City of Indianapolis a safer place to live.”

Eight individuals were charged in a federal indictment and 25 individuals were arrested on state charges. Also seized in the operation was 184 pounds of marijuana, 18 guns, and $69,535.00 in United States currency. These charges were the result of an eight month investigation led by the Indianapolis Metro Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Homeland Security Investigations. The federal indictment charged eight individuals as follows with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute both powder cocaine and methamphetamine:

Gerardo Benitez-Arellano, 33, of Indianapolis and Mexico
Agustin Lozano, 34, of Indianapolis and Mexico
Rene Israel Ortega, 34, of Lombard, Il and Mexico
Juan Carlos Torres, 35, of Indianapolis and Honduras
Erika Vazques-Joachin, 27, of Indianapolis and Mexico
Victor Dominguez-Ruiz, 28, of Indianapolis and Mexico
Claudia Del Cid Paz, 25, of Indianapolis and Honduras
Guadalupe Ivara, 30, of Crest Hill, IL and Mexico

According to Assistant U. S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler, who is prosecuting the case for the government, most of the defendants, if convicted, face possible 10 year minimum mandatory prison sentences. The following agencies provided extensive cooperation with the investigation:

  • Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
  • Marion County Prosecutors Office
  • DuPage County, Illinois Prosecutors Office
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Homeland Security Investigations
  • Internal Revenue Service - OIG
  • Carmel, Indiana Police Department
  • Hamilton County, Indiana Sheriff’s Office
  • Hancock, County, Indiana County Sheriff’s Office
  • City of Lawrence Police Department
  • Lombard, Illinois Police Department

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.