2 with possible ties to Mexican cartels arrested

Bartholomew County’s Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team has arrested two people with possible ties to Mexican drug cartels who are accused of dealing methamphetamine in Bartholomew and Jennings counties, police report.

Detectives served a warrant Friday at 372 Center St. in Columbus as part of a multi-year investigation into methamphetamine dealing in the community, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

While serving the warrant, officers arrested Lucilma Santana, 50, of Columbus, Harris said. Earlier in the investigation, officers had learned her husband, Miguel P. Santana, 53, had fled the state and was living in Florida, Harris said.

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Officers from Seymour Police Department’s SWAT Team along with detectives with the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department also searched a home owned by the Santanas at Camp Holland near Brush Creek Reservoir in that county Friday, Seymour Detective Brian Moore said.

Methamphetamine, marijuana and several firearms were found during that search, but no one, including Miguel Santana, was there, he said.

Also, officers with Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department in Florida served a search warrant at a home owned by Miguel Santana in that county Friday but did not locate him in that home, Moore said.

At about 2:30 p.m. Friday, an officer with the Houston Police Department in Texas stopped Miguel Santana for a minor traffic violation and later confirmed he was wanted on multiple felony methamphetamine-dealing warrants for his arrest, Harris said.

JNET officials said the couple were major players in the local drug trade and were believed to be involved in two large profile drug busts made in 2016 on South Gladstone Avenue and the Hilltop Mobile Home Park, Harris said.

Moore said police have made several controlled purchases of drugs from the Santanas, who also own two homes in Jackson County, and some of their associates. Some of those people already have been arrested, and more arrests are possible, Moore said.

In the past 18 months, detectives have arrested about a dozen of the couple’s associates on narcotics charges, Harris said. Also during that time, officers have seized more than 30 pounds of methamphetamine and more than $300,000 in currency.

Lucilma Santana is being held in the Bartholomew County Jail on a warrant for dealing in methamphetamine. Miguel Santana is incarcerated in Houston, Texas, on four arrest warrants for dealing in methamphetamine and is awaiting extradition back to Indiana.