IMPD raids three houses linked to rash of overdoses downtown

INDIANAPOLIS -- Four men were arrested and nearly 10 pounds of suspected synthetic marijuana was seized last week as part of an ongoing investigation into a string of overdoses in downtown Indianapolis.

On Thursday, IMPD narcotics unit detectives executed three separate search warrants at residences on the Near Eastside – one in the 500 block of North Keystone Avenue, one in the 300 block of North Gladstone Avenue and a third in the 600 block of North Oxford Street.

Police said the locations were suspected drug houses that were “supplying lower-level drug dealers victimizing the homeless population within the Downtown District.”

As a result of the warrants, 26-year-old Chester Irons was arrested on charges of dealing in a synthetic drug, unlawful possession of a firearm by a domestic batterer and possession of a synthetic drug or lookalike substance.

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Police also arrested 26-year-old Antonio Lamb on charges of dealing of a synthetic drug, escape, possession of a synthetic drug and possession of marijuana. Two other men, 39-year-old Shamar Brown and 32-year-old Dominic Johnson, were arrested on outstanding warrants.

At the Keystone Avenue location, detectives seized a large plastic tub filled with an estimated 7 pounds of synthetic marijuana. Synthetic marijuana was also found at the Gladstone Avenue and Oxford Street houses. At the Oxford Street location, police found large bags of synthetic marijuana along with an unknown chemical “used to mix with the spice to increase the intoxication levels.”

A preliminary lab report filed in Marion County Court identified the seized substances as 5-fluoro-ADB and FUB-AMB, also known as AMB-FUBINACA. The latter substance was linked to more than 30 suspected overdoses in New York City in December 2016, according to the New York Times.

The Times reported that overdose victims presented with a “zombielike” state. That’s similar to the description of the 26 overdose victims reported in downtown Indianapolis earlier this month.

In those cases, which police linked to a tainted batch of drugs being distributed at the Wheeler Mission, victims suffered from vomiting, convulsions and erratic behavior. Some of the victims, like a man located lying in the roadway on Wabash Street, were found unable or unwilling to respond verbally.

READ MORE | 'Very likely' more tainted drugs still on the street as new victim found unresponsive downtown

The drugs are also chemically similar to the 5-fluoro-AMB federal prosecutors accused 14 men of peddling on Indy’s northside in an indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Investigators in that case intercepted at least one package of synthetic marijuana headed for Indianapolis from Hong Kong.

READ MORE | 'Operation Little Dipper:' Feds charge 14 in alleged drug, gun trafficking organization

Police previously arrested two men – Melvin Cannon, 59, and Nathaniel Davis, 53 – on charges of dealing marijuana, maintaining a common nuisance sand possession of marijuana and a controlled substance in connection to the downtown overdoses.

Irons and Lamb appeared in court for an initial hearing on Tuesday. As of Wednesday afternoon, both had been released on jail.

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