Men taking plea deal in drug bust

In a case involving federal agents and million-dollar jail bonds, the last two of four men described as high-profile drug dealers in Columbus have pleaded guilty.

Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge Jim Worton has scheduled back-to-back sentencing hearings on March 7, starting at 1:30 p.m., for:

Albin E. Asencio, 30, 3841 Longshore Drive.

Erlin Lucero-Asencio, 24, 6902 Clark Blvd.

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Both have accepted plea bargains, agreeing to plead guilty to Class B drug-dealing charges, court documents state. Originally charged with Class A felonies, the two men are from Guatemala.

The other two defendants who were arrested with Asencio and Lucero-Asencio on Dec. 18, 2015, are from Mexico. After next month’s sentencing, all four could be subject to deportation, court documents stated.

Jose Rodrigo Dominguez-Cruz was sentenced to 10 years in prison in July by now-retired judge Stephen Heimann, while Worton handed down the same amount of time to Carlos M. Martinez Perez in December.

Erlin Lucero-Asencio was originally accused of selling an ounce of methamphetamine to a confidential informant in the early summer of 2013 in exchange for $1,800, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

A few weeks later, a similar purchase of the same drug took place involving two ounces for $3,500, the affidavit stated.

Albin Asencio was originally accused of selling cocaine twice in the late spring of 2013, court documents state. In both cases, a half-ounce of a narcotic was provided in exchange for $600, the affidavit states.

In most of the cases, investigators were able to obtain audio and video recordings of the various drug transactions, according to probable-cause affidavits.

The pair chose public places to sell narcotics, occasionally making the buyer travel to two or more locations in an effort to avoid surveillance, the affidavits state.

But since most of the buys took place in busy parking lots, video from private surveillance cameras also was available as evidence, court records state.

The four arrests resulting from a single investigation were considered to be the first major enforcement breakthroughs for the Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team.

The combined unit of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, the Columbus Police Department and the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s office was formed earlier in 2015.

Beside the FBI, the team was assisted by the Indiana State Police.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.