By The Associated Press
FORT WAYNE — More than 20 people, mostly from northeast Indiana, were arrested on federal drug charges after the FBI and local police executed multiple search warrants in the region Wednesday.
Seventeen residents of Fort Wayne, three from Columbia City and one from Indianapolis were indicted on charges including distribution of fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana, authorities said. The defendants range in age from 21 to 45.
The arrests followed an investigation lasting more than a year that was led by the Fort Wayne FBI's Safe Streets Task Force, which includes the Fort Wayne Police Department, Allen County Sheriff's Department and the Indiana State Police, said Grant Mendenhall, special agent in charge of the FBI's Indianapolis Division.
"This was an outstanding example of federal and state agencies working together to positively impact Northeast Indiana by disrupting and dismantling a large-scale drug trafficking organization," Mendenhall said in a statement. "These arrests should serve as a reminder that we will continue to target these offenders and the impact they are having on our communities."
U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch called drug dealing "one of the precursors to violent crime."
"Today with the arrest of these individuals we made a serious impact on the distribution of narcotics in the greater Fort Wayne area," Kirsch said.
The FBI describes a Safe Streets Task Force as "the vehicle through which all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies collaboratively address the violent crime plaguing communities." The 160 Safe Streets operations nationwide target violent gangs committing crimes such as racketeering, drug conspiracy and firearms violations.