INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Police served multiple search warrants and made multiple arrests after learning drug dealers were preying on those experiencing homelessness, some working nearby a homeless shelter.
Their investigation focused in part on the area outside the Wheeler Mission's men's emergency shelter downtown.
"We were having some issues around the Wheeler Mission specifically on the Wabash side and that's usually deals with synthetic marijuana that causes some intoxication events where people will overdose," a narcotics sergeant who asked not to be identified said.
Police worked to identify the dealers targeting the homeless community, supplying heroin, crack cocaine and synthetic marijuana. The sergeant said they've identified dealers living outside the downtown area.
Thursday, investigators carried out three search warrants throughout Indianapolis. During a search of a home on N. Stuart St., police found 200 grams of heroin, 50 grams of crack cocaine, 30 grams of marijuana, cash, controlled pills and a pill press. During a search on Beckwith Dr. investigators found a pound of synthetic marijuana, half a pound of marijuana, three loaded handguns, a bullet-proof vest, paraphernalia and cash. During a search on N. Oakland Ave., police found 10 grams of heroin, controlled pills, ammunition and paraphernalia.
Police said they arrested nine people. Three of the arrests were for dealing/possession.
"We have other targets that we know who come and deal so we will be focused upon them," the sergeant said.
The crackdown was welcome news for some at the shelter, where some men are working to battle addiction and recover from it.
"It was a life situation that just kind of segued into addiction," Steve Wainman said. "I didn't wake up and say, 'I want to be addicted to this.'"
Wainman said after surviving cancer, he eventually became addicted to prescription drugs. Realizing he needed help, he turned to a recovery program at Wheeler Mission. Now he's almost finished and goes back to the shelter to lead the crew serving dinner to dozens of men. Some of them are more recently sober.
"Anything that can protect them from even having to see it is, you know, something that's a positive," he said.
The shelter became more vigilant and enhanced security after a rash of overdoses last year. It said there has not been a major overdose event like it since. But the drug busts were still welcome news.
"A bust like this from IMPD it helps us out. It helps us to do what we want to do which is get the people who are on the drugs off and away from that addiction, get their life moving forward," shelter director William Bumphus said.
And that's exactly what they are continuing to do while police investigate.