HANCOCK COUNTY — An Indiana police officer served as a bodyguard for a synthetic marijuana-manufacturing operation and has been charged two and a half years after investigators raided the New Palestine home where the drugs were made, prosecutors said.

Jason Woods, a former Hendricks County sheriff’s deputy, was arrested Thursday night and booked into the Hancock County Jail. Woods, 43, of Brownsburg, pleaded not guilty Friday to six felony charges: bribery, assisting a criminal, dealing synthetic drugs, conspiracy to deal synthetic drugs, official misconduct and corrupt business influence.

Woods’ arrest is a new development in an Indiana State Police and Homeland Security investigation that dates to 2013. In October 2013, officers raided two properties: a New Palestine home where synthetic marijuana, or spice, was manufactured and an Indianapolis warehouse where the drugs were packaged and distributed, court documents state.

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Investigators say both locations were operated by Robert Jaynes and Kirk Parsons, two Indianapolis men investigators say ran the drug-manufacturing ring and who face federal drug charges. After the raid of the New Palestine home, 12 people were arrested on drug-related charges in Hancock County.

Woods used his marked patrol car to escort drugs and supplies to and from the ring’s manufacturing locations, according to court documents.

Witnesses told investigators Woods frequented the home in 4500 block of South County Road 650W in New Palestine where more than $3 million worth of synthetic drugs was confiscated during the 2013 raid, court documents state.

Woods parked his patrol car outside the home; drove behind trucks moving drugs, paraphernalia and manufacturing materials; and traveled with the ring’s leaders to other states as a bodyguard because his police badge allowed him to carry a gun on a plane, court documents state.

The Indianapolis warehouse and New Palestine home were raided within days of each other in October 2013. Hundreds of pounds of spice and spice-making materials were found in the warehouse, and a 40-by-60 foot garage behind home in New Palestine stored 500 pounds of spice along with chemicals, flavoring and 800 pounds of dried flowers, all common ingredients used to make spice, according to police.

Witnesses told investigators Woods was at the New Palestine property at least twice a week, and his patrol car was parked outside the house for days at a time, in some cases, court documents state. He also spent time at the warehouse, records state.

Employees at businesses near the Indianapolis warehouse were interviewed by police after the property was raided. Those people told investigators they thought something was suspicious about the business, “but assumed it was legitimate due to seeing the police car at the location on several occasions,” court documents state.

Parsons told investigators Woods provided security when they decided to move the manufacturing operation from a barn in Boone County to New Palestine.

“… The idea was that if a police officer was behind them while they transported the product, they would be protected,” court documents state.

Investigators said Woods was bribed with trips and other gifts for his services. Jaynes financed a trip in April 2013 to Arizona for Woods, according to records.

On another occasion, Jaynes paid for Woods to travel with him to Las Vegas, court documents state.

Of the 12 people charged in Hancock County, many gave statements implicating Woods, Prosecutor Brent Eaton said.

Six defendants were given plea agreements for lesser charges, two defendants’ cases were dropped and four are pending, court records show.

Woods remained in the Hancock County Jail at press time on $5,000 cash bond. He agreed to hand over his passport in court Friday.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.