THOUGH many details about the recent indictments have yet to come into focus, many of the suspects had numerous run-ins with police in Columbus, Seymour and elsewhere before they popped up on the radar of federal authorities.
Erlin Lucero-Asencio, 28, of Indianapolis, who faces federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges, has spent time inside the Bartholomew County Jail for drug offenses.
In March 2015, Lucero-Asencio was arrested on charges of possession of cocaine after Columbus police said they found him in the bathroom of El Corral Night Club on State Street with the drug.
Lucero-Asencio, who police said appeared to be intoxicated at the time, told officers that “normally he pays the security guard $20 so that he can do what he wants, but since he did not pay the guard tonight, the guard called the police.”
The following summer, Lucero-Asencio was accused of selling meth to a police informant in the parking lot of Kroger on National Road at least two times.
Victor Vazquez-Hernandez, 41, Seymour, was also no stranger to Jackson County law enforcement.
In February 2021, Indiana State Police were dispatched to Living Word Baptist Church in Jackson County after receiving reports of a fight.
While in route, the officer was notified that individuals involved in the fight had left the church in a black Dodge Durango. Later, a 911 caller told police that the Dodge Durango was parked at the Ironwood Apartment Complex in Seymour.
When the police arrived, there were numerous people outside, who directed officers to an apartment and told them there were at least three people inside.
As the officers approached the door to the apartment, they “observed what appeared to be a substantial amount of blood in the snow.”
The officers knocked on the door, but no one answered. At the time, two men were in a bedroom that police said belonged to Vazquez-Hernandez. One of the men would later tell police that he was snorting methamphetamine in the bedroom.
A short time later, an unidentified man with a cut on his face and “some skin missing from his face next to his nose” opened the door, and the officers could smell marijuana coming from the apartment.
The officers entered the apartment to do a “welfare check,” finding Vazquez-Hernandez and a man with a bloody lower lip. Once inside, police saw “in plain view” a large amount of cash, a crystal-like substance they suspected was methamphetamine, a glass bong and dozens of green plastic bags often used to package drugs.
They obtained a search warrant for the apartment. The officers found 97.4 grams of methamphetamine and $10,386 in cash spread out on a bed and on the floor.
“A very large chunk of crystal methamphetamine was found in a digital camo army cap near the headboard in (Vazquez-Hernandez’s bedroom),” according to court filings.
Under Vazquez-Hernandez’ pillow, police found a silver and black Jimenez Arms pistol that was loaded with 9mm bullets. A search of another bedroom turned up a loaded Glock pistol.
Three months later, a Jackson County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to meet an apartment landlord to arrest one of his tenants on a felony warrant for possession of cocaine.
They knocked on the door several times, but there was no answer. The deputy had already secured a search warrant for the apartment and instructed the landlord to open the door.
However, the landlord discovered that his key didn’t work because the tenant had changed the locks.
“So he got his drill and began to drill the lock out,” according to court filings. “At this time, a Hispanic male came to the door and opened it.”
But it wasn’t the man that the deputy was looking for. It was Vazquez-Hernandez, police said.
Inside the apartment, the deputy found two scales, three glass pipes, six cut straws, three rubber hoses, three baggies, two suboxone tables, $2,116 in cash and a fake Illinois ID and Social Security card.
He also found a piece of foil that contained a paper substance that turned out to be LSD. The pipe, straws and bongs all had white residue on them and appeared to be methamphetamine.
Vazquez-Hernandez told the deputy that “he got the paraphernalia from his neighbor and that the LSD was his,” court documents state.