One of the first heroin and methamphetamine dealers from a large city apprehended after a local narcotics officer began partnering with federal agents will be sentenced in Columbus just before the Labor Day weekend.

James L. Cantrell, Jr., 39, of Indianapolis could receive six to 32 years in prison during sentencing at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 31 by Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Kelly Benjamin.

Besides the local sentence, Cantrell also is expected to serve the remainder of a 20-year sentence handed down in Marion County for drug-dealing felonies in 2006.

Originally charged last winter with two counts of dealing in methamphetamine and one count of dealing in a narcotic drug (heroin), court records show Cantrell accepted a plea agreement July 17.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss one count of dealing in methamphetamine, refrain from seeking an enhanced sentence, and offer no objections if Benjamin agrees to consider shortening his time in prison, court documents state.

However, under state law, Cantrell must successfully complete a therapeutic program in prison in order to obtain that consideration.

In return, Cantrell has agreed to make full restitution of expenses, including drug-buy money, incurred by the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team in their investigation.

According to a probable-cause affidavit, Cantrell sold methamphetamine or heroin three times in Bartholomew County on two separate days last fall: Oct. 11 and Nov. 9.

The two-month investigation was one of the first to involve a Bartholomew County sheriff’s deputy after he was permanently assigned to work with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

While the officer’s identity is kept confidential, the undercover deputy has been helping to track drugs sold locally back to their sources in larger cities, Sheriff Matt Myers said.

On Dec. 1, both federal and local officers arresting Cantrell and accomplice Johnny Flaugher in Indianapolis. Both were taken into custody without incident and later booked into the Bartholomew County Jail.

Originally charged with only one count of dealing in methamphetamine, the 30-year-old Flaugher pleaded guilty in Benjamin’s court in April to aiding, inducing or causing possession of methamphetamine.

On May 11, the judge suspended three years of Flaugher’s sentence but did order that he spend seven months in jail before his probation began.

Since his arrest, Cantrell has remained behind bars.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.