After an eight-month investigation, officials in Indianapolis arrested four men and recovered five tons of marijuana in possibly the largest pot bust in state history.
U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett told the Indianapolis Star that authorities believe a Mexican drug cartel was behind the operation, and the bust was likely a serious financial hit.
The bulk value of the 10,505 pounds, or 5.25 tons, of marijuana is about $5 million, Hogsett told the Star. The street value “could be upwards of 10 times that amount.” $4.3 million in cash was also seized.
An investigation into the drug operation began in March when police suspected illegal activity at a Mexican grocery store in Indianapolis, Reuters reports. Authorities ultimately found "$2.6 million in drug assets" hidden in a false roof of a tractor-trailer leaving the store. Months of surveillance led police to an Indianapolis warehouse "containing five large metal storage containers filled with plastic-wrapped marijuana."
About 20 agents from the DEA and Indiana's Metro Drug Unit investigated the drug operation, which led to four arrests.
Jairo Ramirez, 26, Efren Perez, 20, Julio Cesar Castaneda, 36 and Tomas Toledo, 29, were charged with conspiracy to possess drugs with the intent to distribute and distributing 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. Castaneda and Toledo were also in the United States illegally, Reuters reports.
"I'd love it if this investigation could go straight back to Mexico and we could indict a member of the cartel," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler told the Associated Press. "That would certainly be the goal."
Check out photos of the bust here, courtesy of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office: