Tribune-Star staff report
TERRE HAUTE —
Eighteen people have been indicted on federal drug charges as the result of a multi-agency investigation of a methamphetamine distribution network in Vigo, Clay and Putnam counties.
Seventeen of those 18 were taken into federal custody before Wednesday’s announcement of the indictments by U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett.
The 18th, Brazil-area suspect Sankey Rust, 32, formerly of the Seelyville area, remained wanted on a federal warrant at the time of the news conference at the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Greg Ewing said Rust should be considered armed and dangerous, and anyone with information on his whereabouts should call police, or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling (812) 238-STOP.
Hogsett said all 18 defendants are charged with conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and distributing methamphetamine.
“Over the last year,” Hogsett said Wednesday, “I’ve met with our local law enforcement partners from all 60 counties of this district, and their consistent message has been that there is no greater challenge today than that posed by the use and trafficking of methamphetamine.
“And for those that continue to peddle tragedy and death in our communities, I think today’s joint operation serves as a powerful warning,” he said. “We will not sit idly by and allow you to destroy Hoosier families. You will be found, and you will be brought to justice.”
In addition to Rust, the 17 other defendants named in the indictment were identified investigators as:
• Monica Beard, 29, of Terre Haute
• Scott Campbell, 45, of Poland
• Cassandra “Candy” Cheatham, 43, of Brazil
• Donald “Cat” Cheatham, 49, of Reelsville
• Geoffrey Cheek, 25, of Terre Haute
• Jacob Dean, 24, of Brazil
• Theresa “Mad Mable” Goings, 53, of Riley
• Joseph David Havey, 44, of Cloverdale
• Gwendolyn Kallner, 44, of Brazil
• Lori “Blonde Girl” Larkins, 37, of Terre Haute
• Christopher Loughmiller, 26, of Brazil
• Robert Moore, 46, of Brazil
• Edgar “Igor” Perez, 32, of Columbus
• James C. “Chris” Smith, 50, of Terre Haute
• Michael E. Smith, 38, of Terre Haute
• Laura Sproul, 31, of Brazil
• Kimberly A. Williams, 44, of Terre Haute
The indictment alleges that between December 2010, and Feb. 1, 2012, the 18 defendants participated in a statewide methamphetamine trafficking organization. It is alleged that Cassandra Cheatham, with assistance from Havey, would obtain large quantities of methamphetamine from Perez in Columbus. Cheatham then allegedly provided the drugs to Brazil-area distributors, including Goings, Moore, Donald Cheatham, Loughmiller, Rust and Dean.
As part of this trafficking operation, it is alleged that Sproul and Kallner would assist in the transportation of the methamphetamine and the arrangement of local methamphetamine sales. Campbell is alleged to have assisted Havey in the procurement of methamphetamine from Perez.
It is further alleged that after obtaining the drug product from Cassandra Cheatham, Goings would provide the methamphetamine to several other mid-level distributors, including Beard, James C. Smith, Michael E. Smith, Cheek and Williams. The indictment alleges that Larkins assisted Goings by transporting methamphetamine and money derived from drug sales.
The conspiracy charge carries with it a possible sentence of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million. Because of their criminal histories, some defendants may face sentencing enhancements, including a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison and fines up to $20 million.
This bust is the result of an investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Wabash Valley Safe Streets Task Force with contributions from the Indiana State Police; Clay, Vigo and Putnam County sheriff’s departments; Clay, Vigo and Putnam county prosecutor’s offices; and the Terre Haute Police Department.
Other agencies assisting in the investigation include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; Indianapolis Metro Drug Task Force; Putnam and Vigo County adult probation offices; and the Seelyville Town Marshal.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Holley said the partnership among the involved agencies helped take multiple suspects off the street.
Vigo County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts said meth has taken a large toll on residents here, as witnessed by several citizens who replied during a recent jury selection process that they knew of family members, friends or co-workers who had been affected by meth use in the community.
“It’s a battle we continue to face, and it’s a battle we continue to fight,” Roberts said.