INDIANAPOLIS — A conspiracy to move large amounts of heroin mixed with fentanyl from California to Indianapolis lands four suspects in federal prison.

Three of the suspects from California and Mexico, identified as Elias Parada-Borquez, Javier Lopez-Juarez, and Denice Cardenas, were previously sentenced to just over three years in prison.

On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced the fourth suspect, Charles Kirby from Indianapolis, to 10 years behind bars.

Prosecutors claim a DEA officer in Missouri pulled over the driver of a silver SUV for speeding along interstate 70 in May 2019. After a K-9 allegedly detected drugs, officers searched the SUV and found three plastic-wrapped packages with more than 2,300 grams of heroin and fentanyl hidden in a spare tire.

DEA provided pictures of the drugs seized in this case

According to court records, the three suspects admitted they were driving the drugs from California to Indy to meet with Kirby.

From there, DEA agents arranged a meeting with Kirby at a Holiday Inn Express on Indy’s south side where he was arrested. That led to federal charges and convictions against all four suspects.

“We need to get the message out that if you’re putting that poison on the street, we’re going to do our job to have you charged and sentenced appropriately,” said DEA assistant special agent in charge Mike Gannon.

Federal prosecutors claim Parada-Borquez, Lopez-Juarez and Cardenas were supposed to wait in Indianapolis until Kirby sold the drugs before returning to San Bernadino and then collect the drug trafficking proceeds for the Mexican-based source of supply.

The drugs were a potentially deadly mix of heroin and fentanyl.

“The difference between fentanyl and heroin is fentanyl is 50 times more potent and heroin itself is a brutal destructive drug,” said Gannon.

Mike Gannon said just a tiny amount of fentanyl, equal to the tip of a pencil, can prove fatal. He believes busts like this case can save lives.

“When people are taking drugs such as heroin, cocaine or meth, they’re risking their lives because there could be fentanyl in it,” said Gannon.

A few weeks prior to the traffic stop in Missouri, Parada-Borquez, Lopez-Juarez, and Cardenas drove to Indianapolis to pick up a motorcycle and a Camaro from Kirby as collateral for a drug debt owed to the drug trafficking organization.

As part of his sentence, Kirby will be supervised for an additional five years following his release from federal prison.