- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Eleven people were arrested Wednesday on federal charges alleging they ran a violent drug-trafficking operation that funneled heroin and methamphetamine from Arizona onto the streets of Indiana’s two-largest cities.

U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said the ring brought heroin and meth to Indianapolis and Fort Wayne and other communities and was allegedly overseen by David McMichel, a 31-year-old Indianapolis man who’s among the 11 in custody. Two others, who were allegedly part of the drug operation, remained at large Wednesday afternoon.

McMichel allegedly ran the ring between December 2014 and last month from his home on Indianapolis’ west side while serving a sentence on house detention. He was wearing an electronic ankle bracelet when he was arrested, Minkler said.

“He ran this drug organization, with the guns, with the money, with the violence, from his home all while serving a felony sentence on home incarceration,” he said at a news conference.

McMichel and the 10 others arrested Wednesday all face federal drug trafficking and several also face federal weapons charges.

They were being held in federal custody and it wasn’t immediately clear if McMichel has an attorney.

Minkler said the drug ring’s primary goal “was to supply and infest the city of Indianapolis with massive quantities of heroin and methamphetamine.”

The suspects’ arrests followed a nine-month investigation that confiscated 19 firearms, $160,000 in cash and several pounds of drugs. During that investigation, law enforcement documented 36 drug transactions, one involving one kilo of heroin.

Minkler said the ring was violent and a court-authorized wiretap recorded McMichel ordering shootings and discussing the large number of drug trafficking competitors he wanted to see dead.

“He bragged that he had a list a block long of people he wanted dead,” Minkler said

Most of those arrested had prior convictions and possessed and used firearms. As a group they are among some of the most violent criminals in Indianapolis, he said.

The arrests come as Indiana is facing a growing number of heroin-related deaths as well as outbreaks of hepatitis C and HIV stemming from intravenous use of drugs, including heroin.

Gov. Mike Pence announced Tuesday the creation of a task force that will explore the best way to fight addiction as part of the state’s response to those trends. Pence said Indiana’s heroin-related deaths have soared from 16 in 2007 to 152 in 2013, and the state now has the 16th-highest drug overdose rate in the nation.

Ryan Mears, the supervisor of the Marion County Prosecutor’s office’s major felony division, said that while drug trafficking is a crime it also leads to criminal acts by drug users driven to get money to buy more drugs.

“Every day people are charged with theft, robbery and burglary and their sole motivation for committing those crimes is to feed their drug addiction. But the root of this problem is those who profit, the people who are dealing and distributing in the illegal narcotics,” Mears said.

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