February 05, 2016
Contact: Special Agent Sharon Santiago
Phone Number: (312) 353-7875
DEA Attacks Indiana Opana Painkiller Epidemic
10 Arrests target R/x and meth trafficking network in HIV-infected area
INDIANAPOLIS - The Drug Enforcement (DEA) today announced 10 arrests for drug trafficking charges related to Opana and methamphetamine in southern Indiana. Launched last year, this operation involved state, local and federal law enforcement in attacking the opioid and recent HIV epidemic Scott and Clark Counties.
In April of 2015, DEA Indianapolis became aware of an outbreak of HIV cases, due in part to intravenous drug use occurring in Indiana. The abuse of meth, heroin, Opana, and other opioids is dramatically on the rise and has caused a public health crisis. Typically Scott County would report less than 10 cases of HIV annually, but in the last 13 months has reported 188 cases.
In June 2015, agents from DEA Indianapolis launched a joint investigation with the Indiana State Police and Scott County law enforcement officials to target the source of these powerful drugs so prevalent in the region. DEA and its partners quickly uncovered a large-scale distribution network led by Bennito L. Rodriguez and his wife Brooklynn G. Mack, both of Scottsburg. They obtained their drug supply from sources in Louisville, Kentucky, Indianapolis and Detroit, Michigan and oversaw a trafficking network that included those arrested below:
"Scott County is one of the many great communities in our nation that is experiencing the pharmaceutical drug and methamphetamine epidemic that is turning Americans into drug addicts,” said DEA Associate Special Agent in Charge Karen I. Flowers. “DEA will always stand with our local and state partners to fight this epidemic. Today’s work is the beginning of a safer, stronger and healthier Scott County.”
DEA’s efforts to address this epidemic will not stop with the arrest of these drug traffickers. DEA and its partners are also investigating potential excessive writing or filling of opiate-based prescription medications, while also providing continued community outreach to pharmacy employees. Part of this outreach involves educating pharmacies on potential drugs that are diverted and sold on the illicit market.
“Scott County has been plagued with prescription drug abuse for many years and authorities there asked for federal assistance with their problem” said Josh Minkler, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “We were happy to assist but it is not a problem which can be cured overnight and requires a comprehensive approach. Arresting drug dealers and reducing the flow of illegal drugs into Scott County is a start but only one aspect of the bigger solution.”
Scott County Sheriff Dan McClain said: “I am grateful for the participation of our state and federal partners in this operation. This should be an indication to drug dealers throughout the county that our law enforcement agencies are working together to get drugs off our streets.”
"The DEA and the US Attorney have tools in their toolbox that are not available in state prosecutions, which make these types of outcomes difficult for us to pursue with local resources alone,” said Scott County Prosecutor, Jason Mount. “As one can see, these investigations can be long-term and intensive. We appreciate their joint efforts in this matter, and look forward to continuing to work together in both federal and state prosecutions."
“For those that are addicted, we want to point them to the services they need to end their addiction,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter. “But for those who are trafficking and profiting from those suffering the misery of addiction, we will work tirelessly with our local and federal partners to put them in prison for a long, long time.
This case was jointly investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration offices from Indianapolis, Louisville, Detroit, and Atlanta, Scott and Clark County, Indiana Prosecutor’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U. S. Postal Inspection Service, United States Marshal’s Service, Indiana State Police, and the Sheriff’s Department of Hendricks and Scott County, Indiana.