GREENFIELD — Drug charges have been brought against a New Palestine homeowner, along with 11 others police say played an active role in one of the biggest spice-manufacturing operations local investigators have ever seen.
Jarad Lewis, 40, of Indianapolis, and his 11 co-defendants are charged with five felonies related to the bust at Lewis’ home last October: dealing a synthetic drug (two counts), maintaining a common nuisance, corrupt business influence and dealing a look-alike substance.
Court documents suggest several people who have not been charged remain a target of the ongoing investigation, including Robert Jaynes, the pastor of Irvington Bible Baptist Church in Indianapolis.
Hancock County Deputy Prosecutor Tami Napier said the state’s investigation coincides with a federal probe, which has delayed charges against several suspects.
“We anticipate … adding additional defendants probably within the next 30 days,” she said.
The dozen people charged Monday have been connected to the manufacture and packaging of thousands of pounds of synthetic marijuana, also known as spice, court documents state.
The defendants include the following: Lewis and his wife, Jayme Lewis, and nephew Hayden Lewis; James Mills; Ryan Wyneder; Wesley Freeland; Kristina Arterberry; Lillian Bledsoe; Sharon Strong; Chad Tichenor; Stacey Jaynes; and Sherry Parsons.
None of those arrested is from Hancock County. All three Lewises, Arterberry, Parsons, Tichenor and Stacey Jaynes are from Indianapolis. Freeland is from North Salem; and Mills is from New Ross. No address was listed for Wyneder and Strong.
The defendants are accused of either manufacturing the spice at Lewis’ New Palestine home or being involved in operations at an Indianapolis warehouse where the drugs were packaged, court documents state.
Much of spice manufacturing work was being done in a garage at the home Lewis owned in the 4500 block of South CR 650W, police said. The property has since been forfeited because of its connection to legal activity, meaning county officials may sell the home and its contents and retain the proceeds.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday, the home in New Palestine was just one part of a larger operation with properties both in Indiana and California
Lewis told investigators Robert Jaynes gave him $230,000 cash to purchase the home. According to court documents, several of Jaynes’ bank accounts have been frozen as the investigation continues, court documents said.
Lewis’ nephew, Hayden Lewis, is one of those charged in the case. He told investigators that workers at the New Palestine property cut organic material and then blended it with a powdery substance and acetone to create the spice. The substance, when smoked, produces a high similar to marijuana.
Workers then put the finished product in plastic tubs to be transferred to a warehouse operated by Robert Jaynes in Indianapolis for packaging and distribution.
When police raided the property in early October, they found more than 1,300 pounds of spice, court documents state. In addition, they seized flavoring liquids and bales of dried flowers believed to be used in making the drug.
Police met with Robert Jaynes in October. According to court records, Jaynes “was curious if everyone involved could receive immunity … if he would provide additional details about the investigation, specifically his involvement.”
Jaynes told the investigator the people who worked for him did not know they were doing anything illegal and asked that they not go to jail, court records state.
When an investigator told Jaynes that immunity for those involved was not likely, Jaynes said he wanted to speak with a lawyer, court documents state.
Corrupt business influence and dealing a look-alike substance are Class C felonies carrying a penalty range of two to eight years and up to $10,000 in fines. The remaining Class D felonies carry a penalty of six months to three years and up to $10,000 in fines.