2 linked to drug cartels arrested

Columbus couple accused of playing role in local trade

Bartholomew County’s Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team has arrested a local couple with ties to Mexican drug cartels who are accused of dealing methamphetamine in the Columbus area.

Detectives with the county’s narcotics team served a warrant Friday at 372 Center St. in Columbus as part of a multi-year investigation into methamphetamine dealing in the community, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

While serving the warrant, officers arrested Lucilma Santana, 50, Columbus, Harris said. Earlier in the investigation, officers had learned that her husband, Miguel P. Santana, 53, had fled the state and was living in Florida, Harris said.

Officers from the Seymour SWAT Team as well as the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office in Florida served search warrants simultaneously at separate locations Friday, but did not locate Miguel P. Santana, Harris said.

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At about 2:30 p.m. Friday, a Houston, Texas, Police Department officer stopped Miguel Santana for a minor traffic violation and later confirmed he was wanted on multiple felony methamphetamine-dealing warrants for his arrest, Harris said.

JNET officials said the couple were major players in the local drug trade and believed to be connected to two large-profile drug busts made in 2016 on South Gladstone Avenue and the Hilltop Mobile Home Park, Harris said.

In the past 18 months, detectives have arrested about a dozen of the couple’s associates on narcotics charges, Harris said. Also during that time, officers have seized more than 30 pounds of methamphetamine and more than $300,000 in currency.

Lucilma Santana is being held in the Bartholomew County Jail on a felony warrant for dealing in methamphetamine, jail officials said. Her bond is set at $4.5 million, jail records indicate.

Miguel Santana is incarcerated in Houston on four felony arrest warrants for dealing in methamphetamine and is awaiting extradition back to Indiana, Harris said.

JNET detectives were assisted by the Columbus Police Department K-9 division, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, the Indiana State Police and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency when serving the warrant, Harris said.

Seymour police officers, Jennings County Sheriff’s Department and Columbus police officers also assisted in the case, Harris said.

The Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team is a combined unit of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, the Columbus Police Department and the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s office. The team proactively targets the manufacturing and abuse of dangerous drugs in Bartholomew County and Columbus.

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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.