35 charged in drug sweep; Johnson County effort includes 4 Columbus residents, several more from area

BY MICHELE HOLTKAMP
For The Republic

Four people from Columbus are among 35 suspected methamphetamine dealers who have been charged after a three-month-long investigation by undercover police and the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office.

Additionally, 11 are from Edinburgh and one from Taylorsville, authorities said.

The suspects, most of whom face multiple felony drug-dealing charges, were charged in the past two weeks. Court documents outlining the details of the charges against them were sealed for the safety of undercover detectives who made the arrests.

In all, at least 19 suspects were arrested. Another 16 suspects have not yet been found, or were arrested in another central Indiana county but face felony drug charges in Johnson County.

This is the third major Johnson County drug arrest sweep in 12 months, and the overriding trend narcotics detectives discovered in recent months was the use of methamphetamine, as compared to previous investigations that netted heroin dealers, Prosecutor Brad Cooper said.

The suspected meth dealers were brazen, narcotics officers discovered, conducting deals this summer in a store parking lot off of U.S. 31 in Franklin, Cooper said. One person now facing charges conducted two separate drug deals from his vehicle while parked in front of a post office in the middle of the day, Cooper said.

The previous investigations got the message out to heroin dealers that they won’t be tolerated in Johnson County. Now, officers and prosecutors are making that clear to meth dealers, he said.

“We’re out there. We’re looking for them. We are going to make every effort to get the drug and drug dealers out of our county and off of our streets,” Cooper said.

His office will now work to aggressively prosecute the cases.

Most of the suspected drug dealers arrested in recent weeks are considered small- to mid-level dealers, Cooper said.

During the investigation, officers make an in-the-moment decision whether to continue undercover operations and build a case, or arrest a suspect on the spot, based on such factors as the amount of drugs or whether children are present, Cooper said.

Most of the methamphetamine that officers got in the undercover drug deals was made in Mexico, the prosecutor’s office said.

Several local police departments and their undercover narcotics officers were involved in building cases and charges against the suspects, Cooper said.

“They are doing a huge service to this community by not only getting the drugs off the street, but getting the drug dealers off the street,” Cooper said.

Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal of Franklin, a sister publication of The Republic.

At a glance

Got a tip?

If you know the whereabouts of a suspected drug dealer who has not yet been arrested, call the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office at 317-346-4525.