By Nate Smith
Thirty-four local residents were arrested and charged in the aftermath of one of the largest drug busts to hit the area.
The arrest warrants, according to a press release from the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department, stem from a two-year investigation and were in conjunction with 19 federal arrest warrants issued from Terre Haute.
Daviess County Sheriff Steve Cox said many of these officers worked long hours to come to Thursday’s sweep.
“It was a unique kind of situation,” Cox said. “Those guys worked hard. They were highly motivated to bring these people in.”
Starting at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, federal agents joined with Washington Police and Daviess County Sheriff’s deputies in rounding up many in the sweep.
Cox said the sweep “went down without a hitch.”
“When you get in a big room, you have DEA and federal marshals working with us. I can’t speak highly enough of them,” Cox said. “It’s just a passion these guys have wanting to help their communities.”
Those arrested were, from Washington: Rachel Austin, 32; Sylvester Berry, 33; April Bilskie, 28; Donald Edwards, 24; Earl Fox, 40; Noel Garduno, 21; Janene Green, 28; Molly Haag, 27; Amanda Johnson, 25; Pamela Johnston, 52; Joe Johnston, 31; Todd Miller, 40; Matthew Osborne, 28; Derrick Parker, 31; Christine Riffey, 32; Amanda Scroghan, 28; Susan Smith, 55; Gerri Sullivan, 27; Rebecca White, 39; Richard White, 50; Tiffany Wilkerson, 29; and Christine Williams, 30.
From Odon: John Overton, 27; Jason Potteroff, 38; John Sears, 47 and Brandon Josh Wilkie, 28, were also arrested.
The following people were already in the Daviess County Security Center and were served with additional charges while in jail: Derek Eller, 20; Erica Fox, 36; Christian Smeltzer, 20; Raymond Sellers, 31; Shanna J. Fidler, 35; Beau Wildman, 29; Joshua R. Christmas, 22; and John Q. Wilkerson, 29. All were from Washington.
Austin, Berry, Bilskie, Smeltzer, Smith and Wildman were all charged with dealing in methamphetamine; while Haag, Johnston, Miller, Osborne, Parker and Sears were charged with dealing or conspiracy to deal in cocaine.
Many of the charges stem from dealing in legend drugs or Schedule I, II or IV controlled substances, which are classified as felonies. Austin, Berry, Edwards, Fox, Green, Haag, Johnson, Overton, Parker, Potteroff, Riffey, Johnston, Scroghan, Sears, Sullivan, Rebecca White, Richard White, Wilkerson, Williams, Wilkie, Eller, Fox, Smeltzer, Sellers, Fidler and Christmas were all charged with dealing in either substance or conspiracy to deal in the drugs.
Several were also charged with dealing in marijuana, including Potteroff, Smith and Smeltzer. Deputies found a meth lab and a marijuana growing operation in Smith’s home, according to the release.
Garduno, Osborne, Sullivan, Fox, and Fidler were charged with maintaining a common nuisance, and Austin, Johnson, Joe Johnston and Sullivan face counts of neglect of a dependent.
At 1:57 p.m., the emergency response team and on-duty officers were called to the 400 block of E. Main St., Odon, where Wilkie was barricaded in his residence with guns. The elementary school was contacted to keep his children from riding home on the school bus. Wilkie was taken into custody, and arrangements were made for the children to go with a family member.
All of those charged were taken to the Daviess County Security Center and have bonds ranging from $2,500 up to $1 million. Some had already bonded out, according to deputies Thursday night. Court dates were not available as of press time.
Sheriff’s deputies said that more arrests are pending in the investigation.
Assisting in the local sweep were the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department, the Washington Police Department, State Police, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Vincennes Police Department, Gibson County Sheriff’s Department, Evansville Police Department, Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Department, Vincennes University Police Department, Odon Police Department, Elnora Town Marshal and the Daviess County Prosecutor’s Office.