Date: November 19, 2020 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Indianapolis, IN — Five current and former Kokomo Police Officers were recognized for their outstanding work with federal agents on dismantling a large drug ring in Kokomo. "Recognition for IRS Criminal Investigation's work with the United States Attorney's Office and our partner agencies to dismantle drug trafficking organizations only solidifies the importance of our work and these partnerships", said Tamera Cantu, IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Field Office. "IRS-CI was proud to contribute our financial expertise to this investigation which has had a direct impact on the safety of the Kokomo community." DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Michael Gannon said, "Operation Law and Order was a huge success and a big win for the fine citizens of Kokomo and the surrounding area. The exceptional investigative work done by the Kokomo Police Department, the United States Attorney's Office, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, prevented a murder for hire plot and dismantled the most violent drug trafficking organization operating in Kokomo. Reggie Balentine, Michael Jones, Michael O'Bannon, Pierre Riley, and others utilized violence, fear and intimidation to fuel their illicit drug trafficking. Their lengthy prison sentences will allow the citizens of Kokomo to sleep better and puts all drug dealers on notice that DEA and their state, local and federal counterparts will utilize all resources available to hold violent offenders accountable." U.S. Attorney Minkler presented the Kokomo Police Department with a large engraved plaque with the officer's names and their accomplishment. Each officer also received a United States Attorney Award certificate and an Officer Appreciation Certificate from the DEA. Those honored today included: Captain Shane Melton, Kokomo Police Department Captain Austin McClain, Kokomo Police Department Lieutenant Zach Rodman, Kokomo Police Department Officer Derek Root, Fishers Police Department Cody Rayls "This was a complicated case with many moving parts," said Minkler. "But the work of these outstanding officers paid off, and the streets of Kokomo are much safer because of it. Each of them worked hand in hand with our federal law enforcement partners to hold the accused accountable and provide justice to the citizens of Kokomo. It is a privilege for me to work daily with law enforcement officers and federal agents from across this great state. I see time and time again the dedication that officers, and their federal partners commit to the many cases that we prosecute. So, I am grateful that I can recognize their work today, and I encourage all citizens to recognize the efforts of our police officers, and to thank them whenever the opportunity presents itself." During the investigation, agents seized approximately 17 pounds of methamphetamine, two pounds of cocaine, two ounces of heroin, 122 grams of fentanyl, $37,000 in drug proceeds and 24 firearms. Throughout the conspiracy, many of the conspirators possessed firearms in relation to their drug trafficking activities, in order to protect themselves, their drugs, and their drug proceeds. Investigators were also able to arrest two hitmen that were hired by the organization to travel from Atlanta, Georgia to Kokomo to murder a Kokomo resident. This case was the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Kokomo Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Brady successfully prosecuted this case for the government. The last defendant to be sentenced, Pierre Riley, 52, Macon, Georgia was sentenced on November 6th, 2020 to 490 months in federal prison and must serve five years supervised release after serving his prison sentence. The other defendants and their sentences: Reggie M. Balentine, Kokomo, IN, 504 months federal prison Michael O'Bannon, Kokomo, IN, 450 months federal prison Michael Jones, 420 months federal prison Jason Reed, Kokomo, IN, 420 months federal prison Shuan Myers, Kokomo, IN 300 months federal prison Perry O. Jones, Kokomo, IN, 260 months federal prison Derrick Owens, Terre Haute, IN, 235 months federal prison Deshoun Everhart, Warsaw, IN, 168 months federal prison Thomas Jones, Kokomo, IN, 135 months federal prison Antwon Abbott, Kokomo, IN, 121 months federal prison Kristin Kinney, Kokomo, IN, 60 months federal prison Melissa Baird, Kokomo, IN, 60 months federal prison Patricia Acord, Kokomo, IN, 46 months federal prison Bradley Clark, Kokomo, IN, 37 months federal prison Diondre Jones, Indianapolis, IN, 177 months federal prison This investigation was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.