U.S. Attorney David Capp announced the indictments on drug- and gun-related charges at a news conference in Fort Wayne. Most of those charged were residents of Fort Wayne and smaller communities in northeastern Indiana. Three were from Sturgis, Mich. and one was from Van Wert, Ohio. Eighteen of the 20 were arrested in a series of FBI raids Thursday, and two remained at large.
The operation was masterminded by Manuel Herrera, 43, and his brother Armando Herrera-Velasquez, 41, both of Fort Wayne, Capp said.
Capp said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that the Herrera brothers used their connections in Mexico and Chicago to arrange for the drugs, principally powder cocaine, to be shipped from Mexico and Chicago and then brought back to the Fort Wayne area, where others helped them to divide it up and repackage it for sale.
Capp said the drugs were imported in measures of kilograms but he declined to discuss the street value of the drugs. As an example, Capp said one of the suspects was stopped in Marshall County in February and investigators found $100,000 in a secret compartment in his car. He did not say whether the drugs were transported in the same way.
Manuel Herrera was arrested Thursday in Las Vegas, but his brother remains at large and is believed to be in Mexico, Capp said. He said U.S. authorities were working with authorities in Mexico to capture him.
Capp did not disclose details of the investigation that began in March 2011, but a statement said wiretaps were used.