All 18 individuals were charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute and distributing methamphetamine.
At a press conference, which took place at the Clay County Justice Center Wednesday, United States Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett said the operation was "statewide."
As of Wednesday afternoon, 17 of the suspects were in federal custody and appeared before federal court. However, Sankey Rust, 32, Brazil, remains at-large on a federal warrant.
"We have been told he may very well be armed," Hogsett said. "But we anticipate he will be taken into custody."
Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton added his department had recovered a vehicle late Tuesday evening allegedly used by Rust. In addition, he said one person had been arrested on state charges for hindering the investigation.
Other Clay County residents indicted Wednesday included:
* Jacob Dean, 24, Brazil,
* Gwendolyn Kallner, 44, Brazil,
* Robert Moore, 46, Brazil, and
* Laura Sproul, 31, Brazil.
* Kimberly A. Williams, 44, Terre Haute,
* Michael E. Smith, 38, Terre Haute,
* Lori Larkins, 37, Terre Haute,
* Geoffrey Cheek, 25, Terre Haute, formerly of Clay County,
* Theresa Goings, 53, Riley,
* Donald Cheatham, 49, Reelsville,
* Scott Campbell, 45, Poland,
* Edgar Perez, 32, Columbus, and
* Joseph David Havey, 44, Cloverdale.
According to officials, the indictment alleges between approximately December 2010 and Feb. 1, 2012, the 18 defendants participated in the trafficking organization.
Officials stated that Cassandra Cheatham, with assistance from Havey, would obtain large amounts of methamphetamine from Perez. They would then provide the drugs to distributors in Brazil, including Goings, Moore, Donald Cheatham, Loughmiller, Rust and Dean.
As part of the trafficking operation, it is alleged, according to officials, that Sproul and Kallner, would assist in the transportation of the drugs and the arrangement of local sales. According to officials, Campbell is alleged to have assisted Havey in the procurement of methamphetamine from Perez.
The investigation continued, stating that after allegedly obtaining the drugs from Cassandra Cheatham, Goings would provide it to other "mid-level" distributors, including Beard, James C. Smith, Michael E. Smith, Cheek and Williams.
The indictment also alleges Larkins assisted Goings by transporting the drugs and money derived from sales.
The FBI's Wabash Valley Safe Streets Task Force spearheaded the investigation.
"The short term impact of this investigation is evident," Holley said. "Drugs have been taken off the street. Weapons have been taken off the streets."
Holley also acknowledged the other agencies that partnered in the investigation, including Indiana State Police, Clay County Sheriff's Department, Vigo County Sheriff's Department, Putnam County Sheriff's Department, Clay County Prosecutor's Office, Vigo County Prosecutor's Office, Putnam County Prosecutor's Office and the Terre Haute Police Department.
"We rely and need the help of our state and local partners," Holley said.
"This is exciting for us," Heaton added. "Being a small, rural community, we know meth is a problem. These are not first-time offenders. We look to get them out of our community.
"These types of investigations are not going to stop. It's wonderful to see them going away. But this is just an ongoing thing. It's been a never-ending cycle."
Additional agencies assisting included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, Indianapolis Metro Drug Task Force, Putnam and Vigo Adult Probation and the Seelyville Town Marshal.
Clay County Prosecutor B. Lee Reberger added the scope of the alleged operation was impressive.
"The community doesn't realize how structured these dealings are, the many layers or how they work under the radar," he said. "We know it's happening, and we try to get to it."
Hogsett said the conspiracy charge carries a possible sentence of 10 years to life and a fine of up to $10 million.
He added Loughmiller, Cassandra Cheatham, Cheek, Goings and Beard are also facing an additional charge of distributing methamphetamine.
Hogsett also said due to criminal histories, some of the defendants might face "sentencing enhancement," including a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison and fines up to $20 million.
"They are staring at some serious time," Hogsett said.