Indiana State Police say it's their biggest drug bust in decades, and a major player accused in a multi-state heroin trafficking ring is from St. Joseph County.
Investigators told reporters at a news conference Monday the investigation began last summer in Indianapolis when undercover officers bought heroin from two men there. The investigation, they said, led them to the South Bend area.
After an eight month investigation, officers executed a sting operation April 10 at a Speedway gas station near Brick Road and the US 31 Bypass where they arrested Curtis Lee, III of St. Joseph County and Johanney Quintana of Illinois.
“These people are businessmen,” said Indiana State Police Capt. Tom Ferguson. “And this amount of drugs and the amount of time they've been doing it, this was a business to them.”
Investigators allege a semi truck owned by Lee would show up at the gas station and Lee would meet with Johanney in the truck’s cab.
“They would have a short meeting, a short conversation and then they would leave the location. The truck would actually go to an off-loading place and get the material that was on the truck removed,” Ferguson added.
But investigators say they surprised Lee and Johanney at the gas station last Tuesday where they confiscated 10 pounds of heroin with an estimated street value of $400,000.
At the same time, more than 50 police officers from several local agencies served search warrants at five other locations in St. Joseph County – including Lee's home in the 17,000 blk of Darden Rd, his mother and father-in-law’s home in the 1900 blk of Rockne Dr., the home of Jerome Boyd – an alleged partner of Lee’s in the 3300 blk of Woodmont Dr., and two storage units.
In those raids, investigators said they found $434,550 cash, two handguns, several luxury vehicles and a semi tractor and trailer. According to police, Lee used his semi and his trucking company – Triple C Logistics – as a front for his drug trafficking business.
According to authorities, Lee’s trucking company was in his wife’s name. The business did not have a physical location, but the location on paper was his mother and father-in-law’s home.
In all, police arrested four men in the sting – Lee, Quintana, Boyd and Darnell Beverly. Beverly is accused of selling heroin out of an auto body shop in Indianapolis. The four are facing felony drug charges in Marion County as a result of the investigation.
Investigators said they are still looking for D’lon Edwards, a fifth man they believe to be involved in the drug ring.
Ferguson said the arrests only put a small dent in the overall war on drugs.
“There's always someone to take their place. You never get to the end,” he added.
Police said they had an idea of how long the drug ring was in operation, but would not divulge that timeline to reporters.