INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 24, 2015) - The head of the FBI's Indianapolis Division sat down for an exclusive interview after a violent gang was dismantled earlier this week. Special Agent in Charge, W. Jay Abbott, explained how the year-long investigation led to an operation that was much bigger than he ever imagined.
"I will say we were somewhat shocked by the fact that it was as organized as it was," said Abbott.
Federal, state and local law enforcement conducted a massive sweep earlier this week to arrest alleged members of the Block Burners gang. SWAT teams hit homes all over Indianapolis on Wednesday morning, serving warrants at more than 32 different locations. Police arrested 36 people on federal and state charges. The following suspects are still wanted and considered dangerous:
- William Brown, aka Jeezy, is the Block Burner gang leader. He’s wanted on a federal charge of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances.
- William Dodd is wanted on two federal charges: Serious Violent Felony and Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics.
- Eskivel Reynosa De La Cruz is wanted on a federal charge of Conspiracy to Possess and Distribute 5 kilograms or more of Cocaine.
- Moniqque Smith is wanted on two state charges of Conspiracy to Dealing Cocaine and Maintaining a Nuisance.
- Tyree Gilbert is wanted on two state charges: Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Serious Violent Felon and Criminal Recklessness with a Firearm.
Police found $80,000 in Dodd's stash house and multiple packages of cocaine. Dodd and De La Cruz were last seen in Indianapolis on July 21, the day before the raids. During the course of the raids police seized 21 firearms along with heroin, cocaine, marijuana and prescription pills.
Authorities describe the Block Burners gang as a violent group that trafficked drugs and carried guns as a means of intimidation. The gang was centralized on the city's east side, near 42nd and Post Road.
FBI agents started looking into the gang last summer when they worked alongside IMPD officers for nearly two months. The FBI focused on six focus areas identified by the Indianapolis Public Safety Officials. Agents began gathering intelligence to find out who was committing crimes and how those crimes might be tied to the drug trade. They quickly found out about the gang.
"It can be extremely difficult because they're going to be extremely security conscious and very alert and aware to their surroundings and it's one of the reasons why they were able to operate with impunity for so long," said Abbott.
Investigators used a variety of techniques to monitor the suspects, including wiretapping.
During the morning of the sweep, dubbed "Operation Smoke Show," Abbott watched the plans unfold with IMPD Chief Rick Hite in a secure room. They received real-time updates on the progress. The raids began before the sun came up and had to be conducted in two waves. He gave credit to all the agencies involved for their ability to pull off this operation without any injuries.
"We don't use a SWAT team lightly. These were difficult arrests to make," said Abbott.