Seven people indicted after kilos of drugs and cash found in east Louisville home
Court records show this ring operates from east Louisville to Shepherdsville to Texas, the southwest border and Mexico.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kilos of drugs and cash were found in Bullitt County and east Louisville homes. It's all part of a huge case involving wiretaps, a large amount of cocaine, meth and heroin
"We watched them take TV's, tow trucks, pulled three or four cars, I believe they were moving some boxes and things," said one neighbor, who didn't want to be identified.
"You know when the SWAT team pulls up, and they got their gear on and their guns out..."
Seven people are arrested and indicted for federal conspiracy charges involving drugs. Court records show this ring operates from east Louisville to Shepherdsville to Texas, the southwest border and Mexico.
The Drug Enforcement Administration says Ismael Gonzalez is a large quantity meth trafficker, Carlos Catalan owns a local body shop, and Dante Watts is a known narcotics trafficker. Truck Driver Oscar Argueta was also arrested, along with Ariel Cruz, Jolie Johnson and Kiniki Lucas.
Frank Mascagni who is Watts' attorney, says Lucas is Watt's girlfriend and Johnson is his sister.
"In the United States of America, you can be held on no bond," Mascagni said. "My client is detained with no bond, and that's unfair."
Out of the seven indicted, Watts, Gonzalez and Johnson are the only ones still in jail. The DEA Louisville office says in March, along with Louisville Metro Police, it conducted wiretaps targeting heroin and crystal meth traffickers in the Louisville area, and that led to these arrests in July.
Investigators say a home on Urton Woods in the Middletown area is believed to be a stash location for Watts. Court records show they found about $150,000 in cash and about one pound of crystal meth.
Investigators then say they found another $300,000 in cash in a Mercedes-Benz parked in the driveway. A neighbor says after the raid, there are still a lot of cars coming and going from the house.
"We knew there was some drug activity based on the DEA being there after the SWAT team, but all that cash seems quite surprising," the anonymous neighbor said.
In May, the DEA says Argueta transported 38 pounds of crystal meth from the southwest border. Court records show the drugs were taken to Catalan's body shop with another 11 pounds of crystal meth and hidden in a vehicle there. The DEA says Watts then collected the narcotics.
On wiretaps, investigators say Gonzalez, Watts, Catalan and a unidentified supplier are talking about $600,000 worth of suspected crystal meth and cocaine headed for Louisville.
They say Watts and Gonzalez then traveled to Houston, Texas, to test the drugs before they were shipped here.
Once the drugs were in Kentucky, court records show the DEA watched Argueta's tractor trailer traveling northbound on I-65 near the Bardstown exit to a gas station in Shepherdsville. Then investigators say Argueta left, and they followed him to an auto repair shop in Louisville's south end, where they'd been before.
On Strawberry Lane, investigators went into Catalan's body shop. They say they found a tractor trailer with a lot of drugs The DEA says in the bed of the cab, they found about 31 kilos of cocaine in three bags and six kilos of heroin hidden behind two speakers in the truck.
"Based on the quantity of the drugs seized, assuming everything in here is accurate, there are some folks in here who I would think the DEA would say are big players," Mascagni said.
The DEA says the investigation led to a compound used by Gonzalez. That location in rural Shepherdsville is on Davids Drive. A sign there says security cameras are in use. Investigators say they found $500,000 in cash there.
Then, the DEA says it searched another stash house they believe Watts used. This time it's at his girlfriend's house on Bay Point Court off Chamberlain Lane in east Louisville. Investigators say they found about a pound of cocaine and about a pound of heroin. That's when Lucas was arrested.
"In all cases like this, some are big players, some are middle men we call them mules, moving it from A to B, and one guy got indicted for opening the gate, but see that's the conspiracy, and they can all get the same sentence, irrespective of your role," Mascagni said.
Mascagni says the government has produced about 900 pages of evidence against the defendants that their attorneys are waiting to see. The case is now expected back in court in November.
"My client retained me after my client got arrested at the mall, so he was taken into custody, contacted me and as you know, we entered a plea of not guilty. We are maintaining our innocence," he said.
The DEA says stash houses are everywhere, but they're not as common in the east end.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Mascagni said. "So it's just a scary situation."
Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.