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13 arrests made in months-long opioid ring investigation


First row: Terrence Sanders, Timothy Sanders, Colin Humphries, Chad Sylvester, Tyrone Adams, Lisa Edwards. Second row: Brittney Embry, Seth Patterson, Latoya Evans, Chad Pante, Shawna Roberts, Kary Todd. Third row: Jessica Rhodes, Jessica Mayhew, Jama Bales, Vincent Bell, Jasmine Pugh, Mercadees Riordan. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Thirteen arrests have been made in connection to an opioid ring investigation started by the Bloomington Police Department in Sept. 2017.

The 13 individuals knew each other, BPD Capt. Steve Kellams said. The arrests were all made in the last two weeks.

There are warrants out for the arrest of five more Bloomington residents in relation to the ring.

These individuals include Jessica Mayhew, 27, Jama Bales, 41, Vincent Bell, 51, Jasmine Pugh, 27 and Mercadees Riordan, 23.

BPD worked with the DEA, U.S. Marshals, Indiana State Police and Ellettsville Police Department on the investigation.

The goal of the investigation was to target opioid dealers, according to police. Kellams said small amounts of heroin, cocaine and meth were seized.

The drugs seized from these cases will be incinerated with other drugs held as evidence by BPD. Kellams said a third party is paid to burn evidence like this, usually about twice a year. 

Kellams said this investigation was focused on getting dealers off the streets and drugs out of the hands of Bloomington’s citizens. 

Arrests were made for the possession and manufacture of other drugs, including meth, as well. Kellams said this is common in a drug-related investigation.

Two of the individuals arrested for dealing narcotics are from Chicago Heights, Illinois. Kellams said many of the arrested have connections in Chicago.

“There’s definitely a Chicago connection with the players involved,” Kellams said.

Kellams said the investigation involved standard techniques for a drug bust of this size.

These techniques may have included surveillance, informants, controlled buys and undercover officers, he said.

Five search warrants for five different locations were obtained by police over the course of the investigation. 

One rifle, one shotgun and four handguns were seized, according to detectives. One of the handguns was stolen, and a stolen motorcycle was also recovered, Kellams said.

The warrants were all for locations in Bloomington. These locations included 1506 W. 11th St., 1297 N. Maple St., 4228 W. Cherry Orchard Court, 3210 W. Tapp Road and 1420 N. Arlington Park Drive.

Police will continue to search for the five remaining suspects.

As of Wednesday morning, there are still warrants out for the arrest of five suspects in relation to the opioid ring. 

Kellams said it’s likely officers are not actively searching for the suspects, since charges against them are minor.

All five are being charged with possession of narcotics. Pugh is also being charged with dealing, according to court records.

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