GREENFIELD – Eight people are behind bars on drug-related charges after local police served a series of warrants Wednesday, ending a months-long investigation aimed at catching local dealers.

Led by detectives from the Greenfield Police Department, more than a dozen officers combed the county Wednesday, arresting people they suspect of selling or conspiring to sell drugs in Hancock County.

They face 26 felonies and nine misdemeanors among them.

Two other people were picked up during the sweep for probation or parole violations. An additional suspect – a woman accused of selling prescription drugs – is expected to be arrested in the coming days.

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Police said tips from community members led them to each of the accused. They’re asking residents to continue to report suspicious activity because it’s helping them keep the streets clean.

Those arrested this week represent just a fraction of the drug-related crimes Greenfield police officers are investigating, Police Chief Jeff Rasche said.

In 2015, Greenfield police and the Hancock County Sheriff’s departments announced a coordinated effort to crack down on local drug-dealers.

Each department, citing the county’s heroin and prescription drug problem, added detectives to its ranks who now work undercover, arranging to buy drugs from suspected dealers, usually with the help of confidential informants.

Together, they’ve nearly tripled the number of dealing charges filed against defendants in the last five years, prosecution records show.

In 2012 — the year a city-county drug task force was disbanded — 21 charges were filed against suspected drug dealers. That number jumped to 69 in 2016, showing the difference it makes having officers dedicated to investigating drug-related crimes, Rasche said.

“That was our commitment: to actively pursue dealers in Hancock County,” he said. “We’re not going to quit. We’re going to keep at it.”

Since Greenfield’s narcotics officer started working in January 2016, he’s handled upwards of 200 cases, said Lt. Randy Ratliff, head of the department’s investigations unit.

Wednesday’s sweep concludes several of the officer’s more lengthy investigations, including a few dating back to late last year, Ratliff said.

Five of the suspected dealers arrested lived in Greenfield city limits, and one was from Shirley, according to court documents. An Indianapolis man was also arrested on drug-dealing charges; his girlfriend, also of Indianapolis, was arrested on charges of conspiring to deal drugs.

In each case that resulted in drug-dealing charges, an undercover informant met with the suspect to buy a controlled substance or narcotic somewhere in Hancock County, according to court documents.

Details of where each purchase took place and what type of drugs were bought have been withheld for police officers’ safety, officials said.

Prescription pills, including addictive painkillers, were primarily the type of drugs exchanged in the arranged deals, Ratliff said. The informants were able to successfully purchase Xanax, hydrocodone and morphine, as well as other substances, he said.

While making arrests Wednesday, officers found drugs, including methamphetamine, and paraphernalia. Those discoveries could result in additional charges for the suspects, Ratliff said.

Officers hope this week’s arrests send a message to drug dealers.

Addiction still has a tight grip on many Hancock County residents, Rasche said. And though law enforcement is doing what they can to help those who struggle with substance abuse, it’ll take efforts community wide to truly fight the disease, he said.

“People are sick of seeing their friends die; they’re sick of seeing people got to jail for these same type of (crimes),” he said. “Hopefully, we can get these people help so it’s not a revolving door.”

Spot something suspicious?

Residents can call 317-325-3784 to report suspicious activity. All tips will be investigated and can be left anonymously, police said.

A look at controlled substances

Local law enforcement picked up eight people suspected of drug-related activity Wednesday.

Court records show many of the defendants are accused of selling drugs that are traditionally intended for medical use and considered highly addictive.

Here’s a look at some of the drugs each level includes:

Schedule 1 controlled substance: Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) and ecstasy

Schedule 2 controlled substance: Large amounts of codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, raw opium and opium extracts

Schedule 3 controlled substance: Codeine, suboxone and ketamine, also known as the date-rape drug

Schedule 4 controlled substance: Xanax, Valium and Ambien

Details of the charges

Skylar Gary, 19

481 N. Spring St., Greenfield

Gary sold prescription drugs to a confidential informant twice between November and April, according to court documents. Both deals took place in Hancock County, records state.

Gary faces charges of:

Corrupt business influence, a Level 5 felony

Dealing a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a Level 6 felony

Dealing a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a Level 6 felony

Possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor

Possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor

Tamela Cooper, 53

307 W. Tague St., Greenfield

Between January and April, Cooper agreed to meet and sell drugs to a confidential informant who was working with police, according to court documents. Two deals occurred, both in undisclosed locations in Hancock County, records state.

Cooper faces charges of:

Corrupt business influence, a Level 5 felony

Dealing a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a Level 6 felony

Dealing a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a Level 6 felony

Possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor

Possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor

Erin Griffith, 36

511 S. Pennsylvania St., Apartment B, Greenfield

The same confidential informant contacted Griffith twice between January and May, asking to buy prescription pills from the woman, court records state. Originally, Griffith didn’t follow through with the exchange; but the second time, the informant purchased drugs that were later determined to be controlled substances, according to charging documents.

Griffith faces charges of:

Dealing a narcotic drug, a Level 5 felony

Conspiracy to commit dealing a narcotic drug, a Level 5 felony

Possession of a narcotic drug, a Level 6 felony

Landon Merkley, 23

264 Summer Shade Court, Greenfield

Police say Merkley sold prescription drugs to a confidential informant two times earlier this year, according to court documents. Both deals took place in Hancock County, records state.

Merkley faces charges of:

Corrupt business influence, a Level 5 felony

Dealing a narcotic drug, a Level 5 felony

Dealing a Schedule 1 controlled substance, a Level 6 felony

Possession of a narcotic drug, a Level 6 felony

Possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor

Cody Clark, 23

408 White St., Shirley

Two confidential informants bought drugs from Clark between January and May, according to police. The drugs Clark handed over during the exchanges were not prescribed to him, police said.

Clark faces charges of:

Dealing a narcotic drug, a Level 5 felony

Dealing a narcotic drug, a Level 5 felony

Corrupt business influence, a Level 5 felony

Possession of a narcotic drug, a Level 6 felony

Possession of a narcotic drug, a Level 6 felony

Ian Glass, 23

9634 Brookville Road, Indianapolis

Officers used a website called Drugs.com to properly identify the pills police say Glass sold their informant, according to court documents. Glass sold the informant drugs twice in Hancock County between January and April, according to police reports.

Glass faces charges of:

Corrupt business influence, a Level 5 felony

Dealing a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a Level 6 felony

Dealing a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a Level 6 felony

Possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor

Possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor

Sydnee Horton, 21

9634 Brookville Road, Indianapolis

The same confidential informant who purchased drugs from Ian Glass told detectives it was Horton – Glass’ girlfriend — who drove Glass into Hancock County for the deal, according to court documents. During the exchange, Glass reportedly told the informant he was selling the drugs “for his girl,” court documents state.

Horton faces charges of:

Conspiracy to deal a Schedule 2 controlled substance, Level 6 felony

Maintaining a common nuisance, a Level 6 felony

Nicholas Wagoner, 29

120 N. Spring St., Greenfield

Wagoner sold two different confidential informants narcotic drugs in Hancock County between February and April, according to police. Officers determined the drugs were controlled substances, charging documents state.

Wagoner faces charges of:

Corrupt business influence, a Level 5 felony

Dealing a Schedule 3 controlled substance, a Level 6 felony

Dealing a Schedule 3 controlled substance, a Level 6 felony

Possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor

Possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor

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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.