For Immediate Release
Ten Indicted in Evansville Fentanyl Distribution Case
Organization Involved in Fentanyl Distribution and Fraudulent Firearms Purchased Dismantled
Evansville – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced the indictment of 10 fentanyl traffickers, which was unsealed today in the U.S. District Court in Evansville, Indiana. Law enforcement officers from the region participated in the execution of arrest and search warrants related to the investigation on persons and residences in Evansville and elsewhere. Initial hearings for seven of the defendants charged in the indictment will be held today in the Evansville United States District Court starting at 3:00 p.m.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Evansville office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Evansville Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force, Evansville Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service, and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The members of the conspiracy are alleged to have brought large amounts of fentanyl pills into the Evansville, Indiana area from Phoenix, Arizona through parcel shipments for further distribution.
The indictment charges ten individuals as follows:
- Jacob Beshear, 25, Evansville, Indiana
- Crystal Vidal, 27, Phoenix, Arizona
- Joshua Carr, 38, Phoenix, Arizona
- David Wargel, 24, Evansville, Indiana
- Ciara Wargel, 24, Evansville, Indiana
- Matthew Hunter Bennett, 22, Evansville, Indiana
- Lauryn Smith, 19, Evansville, Indiana
- Austin Davis, 19, Evansville, Indiana
- Madison Brown, 23, Boonville, Indiana
- Abigail Shipley, 20, Newburgh, Indiana
“Laser focus on dismantling organizations involved in the distribution of fentanyl and the deadly combination of fraudulent firearms purchases is a top priority for the Department of Justice and for this office,” said Minkler. “Today we recognize the collaborative effort and partnerships old and new as we announce again our desire to make the Southern District of Indiana one of the most inhospitable communities to traffic illicit drugs.”
Fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances represent the deadly convergence of the synthetic drug threat with the current national opioid epidemic. DEA Indianapolis Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Gordon emphasized, “DEA recognizes the importance of working with our law enforcement counterparts to attack the violent drug trafficking networks producing, importing, and profiting from these deadly drugs. The DEA Mission is to protect our communities against narcotics traffickers who prey on those who suffer the scourge of addiction.”
Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin expects these arrests to send an important message, “We have seen the devastating effects Fentanyl can have on members of our community. Despite the known dangers of Fentanyl abuse, these individuals were willing to profit from its illegal sales. These arrests send a message that the distribution of Fentanyl and other illicit narcotics will not be tolerated in Evansville.” Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin
The Indictment charges ten (10) defendants with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. Two (2) of the defendants, Beshear and Vidal, are charged with money laundering. Three (3) of the defendants, Beshear, David Wargel, and Brown, are charged with firearms straw purchases. According to Assistant United States Attorney Frank E. Dahl III, who is prosecuting the case for the government, the defendants face possible sentences of up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
An Indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s firm commitment to prosecuting those who traffic in large quantities of illegal opiates and other dangerous drugs. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan 3.2