Comments Off on 11 Evansville residents charged in drug bust: 26 lbs of methamphetamine seized

Local residents were acting as couriers to bring large amounts of methamphetamine to Southwestern Indiana from sources near the Mexican border, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Eleven Evansville area residents and one California resident have been charged for what prosecutors said were their roles in two separate drug trafficking operations busted this month.

Federal agents seized 26 pounds of methamphetamine worth an estimated $1.2 million from the two busts, said Joseph Hogsett, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

“This is a significant success story in the ongoing effort to address the scourge of methamphetamine,” he said.

Deputy U.S. Attorney Lauren Wheatley said the methamphetamine was believed to have originated with a Mexican drug cartel because of its purity.

“This was crystal methamphetamine which is more potent and has a higher street value,” she said.

Hogsett said the “one-pot” method of making the drug locally from various off-the-shelf ingredients has created a demand that drug traffickers have stepped in to fill.

“Twenty-six pounds of methamphetamine. That amount cannot be produced locally. It has to come from somewhere else,” he said.

According to a federal criminal complaint six people were arrested for conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine after an investigation that began in October 2012 with information from informants and involved cellphone surveillance.

Charged are: Andre Bastain, 27, Evansville; August Hirsch, 28, Evansville; Adan Vasquez, 35, Evansville; David Haas, 43, Evansville; Bobby Bass, 40, Evansville; and Jesus Torres-Flores, 41, of East Palo Alto, Calif.

Prosecutors said Haas drove a rental car from Evansville to San Jose, Calif., with money hidden in a compartment in its trunk. The car was picked up from a hotel parking lot by Torres-Flores who then replaced the money with methamphetamine.

Officers tracked Haas leaving the hotel on March 21 and saw him stop at a gas station and meet Bass, who was driving a truck with an Indiana license plate. The vehicles were stopped and searched after leaving the gas station. Officers found 19 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in the two vehicles.

Prosecutors said Haas admitted to federal agents that he and Bass had been hired by Bastain to drive to California and return with the methamphetamine.

In the second case, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday, six people face charges of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine: William Elder, 71, Posey County; Everett Tarr, 56, Evansville; Terry Ward, 61, Posey County, Michael Clark, 54, Evansville; Brenda Deer, 47, Evansville; and Lauri Cupp, 45, Posey County.

The indictment charges Elder with leading them in a scheme to acquire and distribute large amounts of drugs from Arizona, beginning in June 2012.

All of those charged in the two cases are in federal custody. Hogsett said they could face sentences from 10 years to life in prison.

Some may also receive sentence enhancements that could increase their minimum sentences to 20 years, he said.—methamphetamine/

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