The Clay County Drug Task Force participated in two separate nine-month investigations for the United States Government that recently ended in the conviction of two members of a well-known drug trafficking organization based in Indianapolis.
On Tuesday, Sgt. Rob Gambill confirmed the department's involvement with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Indianapolis Police Dept., (Indianapolis) Metro Drug Task Force, Beech Grove Police Dept., Marion County Sheriff's Dept. and the Vigo County Sheriff's Dept.
"We have had a great working relationship with the DEA for several years. Whenever we have needed their assistance, they have been right here," Gambill said about the investigation and arrest of 40 individuals, including several from Clay County, involved in the trafficking of Methamphetamine in the area. "These cases show just how insidious Methamphetamine can be, how high of a risk people are willing to take that get involved with it."
Gambill said local law enforcement performed surveillance and search warrants to provide information and evidence to authorities to build cases against individuals involved in drugs.
"There were some major players in Clay County during this investigation," Gambill said, but was unable to comment about details regarding pending federal cases. "Methamphetamine has a tight grip in our county, but we're working to take it back."
Joel Tellez, 26, Indianapolis, and Jose Colin Mondragon, 42, Rockford, Ill., pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine on Thursday in federal court of the Southern District of Indiana before U.S. District Chief Judge Larry J. McKinney.
Both Tellez and Mondragon were members of a methamphetamine trafficking organization run by Jose Perez, of Indianapolis. Officials believe the Perez organization distributed approximately 80-100 pounds of methamphetamine along the I-70 corridor between Indianapolis and Terre Haute from May 2005 through June 8, 2006.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley A. Blackington, the judge imposed some special release requirements on both Tellez and Mondragon during their sentencing hearings.
Drug runner Tellez, who was sentenced to 190 months incarceration and five years supervised release following the fulfillment of imprisonment, is scheduled to be deported to Mexico following completion of the federal sentence and must refrain from re-entering the United States during the appointed supervised releases.
Drug distributor Mondragon, who was sentenced to 240 months and 10 years supervised release following imprisonment, will also be deported to Mexico under the same terms of release.
Gambill said a federal conviction is preferable to one in local courts.
"When someone is convicted and sentenced in federal court, they must serve most of the sentence," Gambill said. "The Indiana legal system allows for a person to receive good time served, making a 10-year sentence only five years incarcerated, but with a federal conviction, they have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence."