$100,000 worth of meth confiscated

Three people were arrested on drug-related charges along Interstate 65 in what police described as one of the largest drug busts in the city’s history.

Columbus police confiscated 2.3 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of more than $100,000, said Sgt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

Columbus police officers LaShawn Tyler and Greg Schuster were sent to the 62.5-mile marker on the interstate, just south of the State Road 46 exit, about 3 a.m. Wednesday about a stranded motorist, Harris said.

They found Alexander Piano Jr., 45, 2340 Walker Ave., Indianapolis, who told them his vehicle ran out of gas a few miles south of where he was found.

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The officers said Piano appeared nervous, and officers found a concealed handgun on him, Harris said.

Piano told officers he didn’t have a permit for the weapon, and he was arrested on a handgun charge, police said.

When the officers found Piano’s van, they also found Billy S. Patterson, 32, 2237 Moreland Ave., Indianapolis, and Ashley George, 28, 110 S. Ninth Ave., Beech Grove, in the vehicle.

A police dog indicated there was an odor of narcotics in the vehicle, Harris said.

Officers found a small bag of methamphetamine, syringes, electronic scales, a shotgun and a locked safe, Harris said.

After the dog indicated the narcotics odor was coming from the safe, police obtained a search warrant and found pounds of methamphetamine inside, Harris said.

Piano also was arrested on a charges of possession of methamphetamine, Harris said. He was being held in the Bartholomew County Jail in lieu of $80,000 bond.

Patterson and George each were arrested on a charge of possession of methamphetamine, Harris said. They were being held in the jail in lieu of $60,000 bond each.

Columbus Police Department detectives and the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team assisted with the investigation, Harris said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.