Kokomo area drug trafficking organization dismantled
Alleged to have brought large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and weapons into Central Indiana
Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh Minkler announced federal charges against 15 individuals who are alleged to have operated a drug trafficking organization bringing large quantities of narcotics into the Kokomo, Indiana area.
“Individuals who bring dangerous drugs into our communities and spread the violence associated with it, can rest assured, they will be held accountable,” said Minkler. “There is no higher priority in my office than to help keep our neighborhoods safe. I want the Southern District of Indiana to be the most inhospitable place in the country to sell drugs.”
Those charged federally include:
Pierre Riley, 50, Macon, GA
Reggie Balentine, 41, a/k/a Pudge, Kokomo, IN
Diondre Jones, 34, Kokomo, IN
Michael O’Bannon, 33, a/k/a Lunchy, Kokomo, IN
Kristin Kinney, 35, a/k/a Cupcake, Kokomo, IN
Michael Jones, 35, a/k/a MJ, Kokomo, IN
Jason Reed, 49, a/k/a Jamon, a/k/a Jasil, Kokomo, IN
Derrick Owens, 37, Terre Haute, IN
Deshoun Everhart, 39, Warsaw, IN
Perry Jones, 43, Kokomo, IN
Melissa Baird, 38, Kokomo, IN
Shuan Myers, 35, Kokomo, IN
Antwon Abbott, 38, Kokomo, IN
Patricia Acord, 58, Kokomo, IN
Bradley Clark, 49, Kokomo, IN
According to the indictment, Balentine is the leader of the distribution conspiracy with Pierre Riley being his source of supply operating from Macon, Georgia, bringing controlled substances to Kokomo. Balantine worked with O’Bannon and Perry Jones to distribute the controlled substances, while Kristin Kinney is alleged to have stored the controlled substances and helped count the proceeds. Balentine is alleged to have sold the controlled substances to Michael Jones, Reed, Everhart and Owens for redistribution.
Yesterday morning (May 1, 2018), approximately 130 agents, troopers, deputies and officers served warrants at 13 locations in Kokomo and the Macon, GA area. As a result of the searches and the entire investigation, over 17 pounds of methamphetamine, over two pounds of cocaine, two ounces of heroin, 122 grams of fentanyl, six ounces of marijuana, two money counters, 12 vehicles, $37,000 and 24 firearms were confiscated.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service, Unites States Postal Inspection Service, United States Marshal Service, Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department, Vigo County Drug Task Force, Indiana State Police, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Miami County Prosecutor’s Office, Terre Haute Police Department, Warsaw Police Department, Indiana National Guard Counter Drug, Howard County Sheriff’s Department, Howard County Prosecutor’s Office and the Kokomo Police Department.
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Greg Westfall stated, “OCDETF Operation Law and Order demonstrates DEA’s commitment to enforcing the drug laws of the United States, and restoring order by bringing to justice those who poison our communities with drugs and terrorize our communities with violence. Our message is clear, individuals who continue this type of criminal behavior, You Are Next.”
“These arrests reflect the continuing impact federal, state and local partnerships have on illegal drug trafficking,” said Grant Mendenhall, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division. “We will continue to aggressively investigate criminal organizations that target our communities with their drug-related violent activity and ensure they are held accountable.”
“Drugs and guns often go hand in hand with criminals using firearms to further their criminal drug enterprise. ATF will continue to work with our law enforcement counterparts to stem the flow of illegal weapons and remove violent criminals from our community,” said Trevor Velinor, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division
Gabriel Grchan, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation, said, “Drug traffickers know their illegal profits are as good as gone when IRS-CI comes knocking. At the end of the day, these criminals care only about money and nothing else, yet the damage to our communities is devastating. IRS-CI is proud to stand with our partners today as we shut down illegal drug traffickers in Indiana communities.”
“The Kokomo Police Department has made and will continue to make the safety and quality of life of our citizens a priority,” said Chief Robert A. Baker. “We are committed to the pursuit of investigations that involve individuals who supply narcotics and controlled substances. We will remain vigilant to pursue investigations of those who perpetuate the victimization of addicted persons in this community.”
According to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle P. Brady who is prosecuting this case for the government the defendants, face decades in prison if convicted.
An indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are considered innocent until proven otherwise in federal court.
In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution sentencing demonstrates the office’s firm commitment to partner with federal and local law enforcement agencies to prosecute individuals bringing methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin into our communities. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan Section 3.3)