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May 15, 2014

2 P.M. UPDATE: Federal indictment follows New Albany meth arrest

Police say seizure is one of largest in department’s history

NEW ALBANY — One of the largest methamphetamine seizures in New Albany Police Department history has resulted in an indictment by a federal grand jury.

Victor Hugo Ramirez, 40, New Albany, was indicted in Indianapolis earlier this week for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. If convicted, he faces 10 years to life in prison and up to $10 million in fines.

United States Attorney Joseph Hogsett held a joint media conference with New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight on Thursday in the Southern District of Indiana federal courthouse.

Hogsett said Ramirez was involved in “an operation, we allege, involving significant amounts of methamphetamine that was distributed by Mr. Ramirez, not only here in New Albany, but throughout the greater Louisville metropolitan area. In fact, in the underlying criminal complaint in this case, there is testimony that Mr. Ramirez was working his distribution network on both sides of the [Ohio] River.”

Hogsett said Ramirez is believed to have been primarily responsible and actively involved in the distribution network.

“To the extent there was a leader, Mr. Ramirez had a leadership role,” he said.

New Albany police arrested Ramirez during a traffic stop March 28 near Seventh Street and Culbertson Avenue in New Albany. Police found a package in the vehicle containing nearly 720 grams — almost 1.5 pounds — of methamphetamine.

“Subsequent to the arrest, law enforcement estimated there was nearly three pounds of methamphetamine, and that has a street value in excess of $140,000,” Hogsett said.

Knight declined to say where the additional 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine was found after the traffic stop, only that it was discovered during a subsequent investigation.

Hogsett said it is not clear where the methamphetamine allegedly found in Ramirez’s possession was manufactured, but said addiction to methamphetamine stemming from small-scale production leads to the demand for outside sources.

“Local production cannot keep pace with the demand, and that is when that demand is satisfied with the importation of methamphetamine, maybe in an even more pure form from places like Chicago, Atlanta,” Hogsett said.

Police have worked the case in concert with the FBI. Knight said Ramirez had been “well known” to area law enforcement.

He is being held in the Floyd County Jail.

Ramirez was charged in Floyd County with class A felony dealing in methamphetamine and habitual offender status in April, but Hogsett said that he expects the state charges to be dismissed with the issuance of the federal distribution charge.

“It is difficult to know just how much methamphetamine this individual distributed throughout the greater Louisville metropolitan area, but his dealing stops now,” Hogsett said. “Those who peddle drugs in Indiana communities will have the full force of federal law to deal with.”

Ramirez was the only person indicted following his arrest, but Hogsett clarified that an indictment is often a process during the beginning of a federal investigation and that others involved in Ramirez’s alleged drug distribution network could be charged.

“Mr. Ramirez is innocent as we speak today, but if he is convicted, I think it is fair to say that we will not have Mr. Ramirez working the streets of New Albany for a long, long time,” Hogsett said.

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