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Narcotics
09/23/2011

Millions in drugs and cash seized in Indiana, 7 charged with dealing cocaine

NEWTON COUNTY, Ind. - More than $1.8 million in cash, and cocaine with an estimated street value of $10 million, was seized earlier this month at a property in northwest Indiana. The seizure resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Indiana State Police's Drug Enforcement Section (DES), and the Newton County Sheriff's Department.

On Sept. 7, ICE HSI agents assisted DES with executing a state search warrant at a property in Roselawn, Ind. During the search, law enforcement officials located a large amount of U.S. currency and cocaine, as well as numerous vehicles. Additional searches revealed that two vehicles and a semitrailer were fitted with hidden compartments commonly used to transport contraband.

In addition to $1,839,823 in U.S. currency, agents and officers seized the following items: 18 bales of cocaine (about 50 pounds), a handgun, a rifle, a bulletproof vest, two pick-up trucks, a horse trailer, an 18-foot flatbed trailer, a semi-tractor, a semi box trailer, and a 24-foot travel trailer. The cocaine has an estimated street value of more than $10 million.

The money and property were seized by ICE HSI agents with intentions of forfeiture. The vehicles were seized by the Indiana State Police and are possibly due to forfeiture by Newton County.

The following individuals were each charged with dealing cocaine, possessing cocaine within 1,000 feet of a youth program center, and conspiring to deal cocaine: Gabriel Martinez Mendoza of Demotte, Ind.; Emilio Dias of Los Angeles, Calif.; Oscar Velarde of Mexico; Maria Lopez, Martina Lopez, and Francisco Cervantes, all of Chicago, Ill.; and Jorge Diaz of Los Angeles, Calif. Diaz was not located on the property and is still at large.

Information will also be presented to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Indiana for possible federal charges. Newton County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Drinski is prosecuting this case.

All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.