'Operation Big Brother' nets 16 drug arrestsJune 5, 2014
By BILL POWELL
Herald Staff Writer
The raid that occured this morning dubbed "Operation Big Brother" was concluded this afternoon when two additional suspects were taken into custody.
Also arrested were:
• Jerry L. Lively, 47, Paoli, for Class B felony dealing a Schedule II controlled substance.
• Christy L. Merkley, 25, Huntingburg, for Class A Felony dealing in a Schedule III controlled substance, Class B felony dealing in Methamphetamine and Habitual Substance Offender Enhancement.
In total, 16 suspects were arrested.
In addition to the charges listed below, further criminal charges are pending for several of the suspects because of illegal items found during the execution of the arrest warrants.
Caleb A.S. Hammond faces an additional Class D felony possession of a syringe. Roberto C. Flores faces additional charges of Class A misdemeanor possession of synthetic drug and Class A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. Joseph W. Christmon faces an additional Class B felony serious violent felon in possession of a firearm. Tasha M. Freeman faces additional charges of Class D felony possession of Schedule III controlled substance, Class A misdemeanor possession of a synthetic drug Class A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia.
Initial hearings were held on all suspects this afternoon and the Dubois County Superior Court set bonds ranging from $10,000 cash or $20,000 surety to $25,000 cash only.
JASPER — An early-morning drug sweep today in which 14 suspects were taken into custody for dealing cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs should send a message, according to Dubois County Prosecutor Kevin Crouse.
“The name ‘Operation Big Brother’ was chosen to send a message not only to drug dealers, but also to the community as a whole,” Crouse said during a morning press conference at the Dubois County Security Center. “Officials want drug dealers to know that drug dealing in Dubois County will not be tolerated, we know who you are, and we are watching you.
“To the community as a whole, officials want citizens to know that law enforcement officers are out there working hard every day to combat the drug problem in Dubois County.
Crouse said the groundwork for the arrests was laid in July 2013 when deputy prosecutor Beth Sermersheim and Dubois County Sheriff’s Department narcotics detective John Anderson met with Posey County officials to learn about that county’s successful undercover efforts before they initiated Operation Big Brother to target Dubois County drug dealers.
During the last 11 months, Crouse said, Anderson and undercover Indiana State Police drug detectives used undercover informants to gather information about the suspects and to make undercover drug buys of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, schedule II, III and IV controlled substances and look-a-like substances. All of the drug buys occurred here in Dubois County.
Authorities said about $5,700 was spent on controlled buys and substantial quantity of drugs was taken off the streets.
More than 50 law enforcement officers from across southern Indiana worked together to ensure the safety and success of the raid. The logistics of today’s arrests took three weeks to organize. All officers returned safely and all suspects were taken into custody without incident, according to Sermersheim.
One participant said he got out of bed for the operation at 1:15 a.m. but he had been wide awake since midnight.
Dubois County law enforcement agencies involved in executing the arrest warrants included the sheriff’s department, state police, the Jasper Police Department, Huntingburg Police Department, Ferdinand Police Department, Indiana Conservation Officers and the Indiana State Parole Office.
Dubois County Dispatch and Child Protective Services also assisted in the raid and Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services ambulance personnel were on standby during that time. Authorities said Child Protective Services was involved because one or two of the suspects had children in their residences.
Crouse and sheriff Donnie Lampert said the cooperation of the various agencies was tremendous.
Lampert called in additional jail staff to handle today’s bookings.
• Jacob W. Volz, 45, 707 E. Seventh St., Huntingburg, for Class C felony dealing a Schedule IV controlled substance.
• Amy S. Street, 41, 675 Giesler Road, Jasper, for two Class A felony counts of dealing methamphetamine.
• Jason J. Schepers, 34, of 9098 W. State Road 64, Birdseye, for a Class B felony count of dealing methamphetamine with a habitual offender enhancement.
• Brian A. Perez, 28, of 505 E. Seventh St., Huntingburg, Class A and B felony counts of dealing methamphetamine with a habitual offender enhancement.
• Margaret F. MacDonald, 41, of 706 Church Ave., Huntingburg, for a Class B felony count of dealing methamphetamine and a Class C felony count of aiding, inducing or causing dealing in a look-a-like substance with a habitual substance offender enhancement.
• Caleb A.S. Hammond, 20, 706 Church Ave., Huntingburg, for a Class B felony count of dealing methamphetamine and two Class C felony counts of dealing in a look-a-like substance with a habitual offender enhancement.
• Ryan N.R. Groeschen, 32, 324 Medcalf St., Dale, for two Class A felony counts of dealing in a Schedule III controlled substance (Hydrocodone).
• Brock E. Gill, 22, no current address, Jasper, for two Class B felony counts of dealing methamphetamine. There is also an additional case with misdemeanor counts of marijuana possession and possession of paraphernalia.
• Edward L. Freyberger, 67, 4863 E. Jasper-Dubois Road, Dubois, a Class B felony count of dealing in a Schedule II controlled substance (Oxycodone) and a Class B felony count of dealing in a Schedule II controlled substance (Adderall).
• Tasha M. Freeman, 24, of 504 E. Seventh St., Huntingburg, for a Class A felony count of attempted dealing in methamphetamine, a Class B felony count of dealing in a narcotic drug (heroin), and a Class C felony count of neglect of a dependent.
• Roberto C. Flores, 32, 313 N. Van Buren St., Huntingburg, for a Class B felony count of dealing cocaine and a Class C felony count of neglect of a dependent.
• Karrie F. Eckert, 48, of 807 E. First Ave., Huntingburg, for two Class B felony counts of dealing in a Schedule II controlled substance (morphine).
• Joseph W. Christmon, 41, 312 State Road 145, Birdseye, for two Class A felony counts of dealing cocaine and a Class B felony count of dealing cocaine.
• Rosetta L. Allbright, 41, of 6775 E. Schnellville Road, Birdseye, for a Class A felony count of dealing methamphetamine and a Class B felony count of dealing methamphetamine with a habitual substance offender enhancement.
Sermersheim said charges were dismissed for one wanted subject who died during the course of the months-long investigation before authorities were ready to proceed with arrests. Another arrest warrant is still outstanding. Sermersheim estimated that a half to three-quarters of those arrested in the sweep could be classified as big players in the local drug trade.
Additional charges are pending on several suspects based on items found during the raid.
Crouse said this was the first of what should be many such operations.