INDIANAPOLIS — Federal prosecutors have dismantled a major drug trafficking operation in Indianapolis. 

Twelve suspects are now facing charges in the case.

In all, prosecutors seized 408 pounds of meth, 8 kilograms of fentanyl and 28 firearms. The seized firearms included several semi-automatic AR-platform rifles. Approximately $32,800 in U.S. currency, as well as six vehicles, two trailers, three all-terrain vehicles and a dirt bike, were also seized.

The federal indictment details how a year-long investigation resulted a dozen arrests.

“We have to hold them accountable because they are flooding our communities with this poison, and they don’t care. For them it’s all about making money,” said Mike Gannon, DEA assistant special agent in charge.

The indictment claims Erick Romero, who used multiple aliases, coordinated the operation with 11 other suspects as far back as September of 2021.

“What we’re trying to do is save lives,” said United States attorney Zachary Myers.

Myers said because a tiny amount of fentanyl — just enough to fit on the tip of a pencil — can be fatal, the bust likely prevented overdoses and violence.

“You know people don’t realize because of the dangers of fentanyl that meth poisoning also causes overdose deaths,” said Myers.

Prosecutors believe the suspects used an apartment building on Lake Nora South Court on Indy’s north side to store large amounts of meth.

On December 13, 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with several local and federal law enforcement agencies, executed search warrants at seven residences in Indianapolis and arrested 10 of the defendants charged in the indictment.

Eduardo Abel Torres De Leon was apprehended in West Grove, Pennsylvania. Jose Ponciano-Felix was arrested on December 13, 2022, in Indianapolis during the execution of one of the search warrants and was charged by criminal complaint with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The members of the conspiracy used cellular devices and code words to facilitate these drug trafficking activities. The drugs were allegedly smuggled by mail and sometimes by train.

Investigators claim Romero texted pictures of train cars in Nebraska where the drugs were hidden before being picked up by multiple co-defendants and brought to Indiana to be distributed.

“You know, these drugs go from train cars in Nebraska to a stash house on the north side of Indy. This is a local crime and a nationwide issue,” said Myers.

“The message is we’re out there every day with our state and federal partners to make this community a safer and better place,” said Gannon.

As of December 20, 2022, 11 of the 12 defendants were ordered to be detained pending trial or detaining pending hearing. Richard Michael Moore was ordered to be released on conditions set by the court.