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36 people indicted on drug trafficking charges in Bartholomew County

Posted at 9:57 AM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 13:54:54-04

COLUMBUS — Three dozen people have been indicted by a grand jury on federal charges following an investigation into a drug trafficking organization in Columbus.

Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress said Tuesday at a news conference that 24 of the 36 people have already been convicted and received sentences ranging from 12-to-270 months in federal prison.

“The large drug trafficking organizations not only saturate our communities with illegal drugs, they bring gun violence and contribute to the addiction problems facing the Hoosier state and nation,” Childress said.

In 2018, federal agents and officers assigned to the Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team began an investigation called Operation Columbus Day.

Agents and officers identified members of a Mexican-based drug trafficking organization who were allegedly sending large amounts of methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana to the Columbus and Seymour area.

Childress said multi-year investigation investigation targeted members of the Chavez family, who lived and operated out of the Columbus area. Investigators intercepted multiple parcels containing drugs, conducted controlled purchases and served approximately 15 search warrants in Bartholomew County.

Agents seized approximately 114 pounds of methamphetamine, four pounds of heroin/fentanyl, 28 pounds of marijuana, 115 firearms and approximately $224,124, according to Childress.

“Federal law enforcement will continue to work with state and local law enforcement to eliminate these organizations and assure the citizens who live in the Southern District of Indiana that we are committed and determined to keep the communities where they live safe," Childress said.

Agencies that participated in the investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, United States Postal Inspection Service, Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team, Seymour Police Department, U.S. Marshal Service and Homeland Security Investigations. The case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation.

“We have a good working relationship with our federal partners, and I look forward to continuing to work together as a team to help stop the flow of illegal drugs from entering our community," Bartholomew County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Gregory E. Long said.

Watch Wednesday's news conference in the player below: