SCOTT COUNTY, Ind. -- A law enforcement coalition took down a methamphetamine and oxymorphone ring Friday morning in Scott County, where a recent HIV outbreak contributed to epidemic levels in southern Indiana.
The takedown was six months in the making, and involved five federal search warrants leading to the arrest of 10 people on charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances in Scott County.
The DEA, Indiana State Police and law enforcement in Scott County all collaborated on the bust.
Those arrested were:
Bennito L Rodriguez, a/k/a Benny, 38, Scottsburg, IN.
Brooklynn G. Mack, 29, Scottsburg, IN.
Rashawn A. Vaughn, a/k/a Ray, 41, Louisville, KY.
Eric L. Gude, 36, Indianapolis
Rashaan S. Perkins, a/k/a Phil, a/k/a D, 21, Detroit, MI.
Anthony L. Hardy, 39, Indianapolis
James D. Haney, 56, Austin, IN.
Justin M. Roberts, a/k/a Booger, 38, Austin, IN.
Travis D. Brock, 34, Scottsburg, IN.
Michael A. Doyle, 38, Scottsburg, IN.
According to Drug and Violent Crime Chief Bradley Blackington, the defendants face 10 years to Life imprisonment if convicted.
“Scott County was targeted by an organization with the goal of infesting that community with drugs, including the prescription painkiller Opana,” said United States Attorney Josh Minkler in a release about the bust. “This became an epidemic and local law enforcement asked for our help. Today, I am pleased to announce that the organization has been dismantled but this is only a start; one aspect of a bigger solution.”
Investigators began looking into the ring in June 2015, and allege that Bennito L. Rodriguez and his wife Brooklynn G. Mack were orchestrating the supply of Opana (oxymorphone) and methamphetamine in Scott County. Law enforcement officials believe those two got their supply from sources in Louisville, Detroit and Indianapolis. Similar operations in Detroit and Louisville followed Scott County's arrests.
Scott County experienced an outbreak of HIV cases in 2015, due in part to intravenous drug abuse with substances such as heroin and Opana. Normally the county would report less than 10 cases of HIV annually, but in the last 13 months reported 188 cases. The county implemented a needle exchange in April as one means of slowing the spread, the first of its kind in the State of Indiana.
Opana has a street value of up to $160 and can be dissolve and injected by up to four individuals to get high, according to law enforcement.
“A public health crisis will not be solved by simply arresting those who illegally sell drugs," Minkler added. "It also requires a reduction in demand for illegal drugs. That can only be accomplished by all of us-federal, state and local authorities along with public and private partnerships working together for prevention and treatment.”
"Scott County is one of the many great communities in our nation that is experiencing the pharmaceutical drug and methamphetamine epidemic that is turning Americans into drug addicts,” said DEA Associate Special Agent in Charge Karen I. Flowers. “DEA will always stand with our local and state partners to fight this epidemic. Today’s work is the beginning of a safer, stronger and healthier Scott County.”
“I am grateful for the participation of our state and federal partners in this operation," Scott County Sheriff Dan McClain said. "This should be an indication to drug dealers throughout the county that our law enforcement agencies are working together to get drugs off our streets.”
"The DEA and the US Attorney have tools in their toolbox that are not available in state prosecutions, which make these types of outcomes difficult for us to pursue with local resources alone,” said Scott County Prosecutor, Jason Mount. “As one can see, these investigations can be long-term and intensive. We appreciate their joint efforts in this matter, and look forward to continuing to work together in both federal and state prosecutions."
“For those that are addicted, we want to point them to the services they need to end their addiction,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter. “But for those who are trafficking and profiting from those suffering the misery of addiction, we will work tirelessly with our local and federal partners to put them in prison for a long, long time.