DATE: Sunday, August 03, 2014
SUBJECT: Arrests yield 14 pounds of Crystal Methamphetamine
CONTACT: Sgt. David Eads
AUTHORITY: Sheriff Dave Wedding

On Saturday, August 02, 2014 law enforcement officers with the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized approximately 14 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and arrested three people. The arrests stem from a joint investigation of an Arizona based drug trafficking organization. More arrests are expected as a result of this ongoing investigation.

The seizure and arrests made on August 02, 2014 took place after the surveillance of several members of the drug trafficking organization who were visiting Vanderburgh County in order to facilitate the delivery of approximately five pounds of crystal meth to a confidential informant. Three vehicles and five individuals were identified as being involved in the trafficking operation. Two of those vehicles have been impounded pending further investigation. The third vehicle, a maroon 2010 Honda Accord four-door with an Arizona license plate eluded the surveillance and is still outstanding.

At approximately 1345 hours, law enforcement observed the maroon Honda and a silver Nissan Sentra, travelling north on Highway 41 near Interstate 64. After entering Gibson County the Honda continued north toward Ft. Branch while the Nissan pulled into a business lot near Hwy 41 and Warrenton Road. Law enforcement observed that a male was picked up in the parking lot and transported across the lot before being dropped off near a Freightliner semi tractor and trailer which was also parked on the lot. The silver Nissan then left the business and reentered Vanderburgh County. At approximately 1354 hours Detective Lenny Reed of the Evansville Police Department attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the Nissan on Hwy 41 near Hillsdale Road. The driver of the vehicle failed to stop and fled from Det. Reed.

The Nissan turned west on Mt. Pleasant Road and then entered a subdivision where it led Det. Reed on a short pursuit through the neighborhood. The driver then drove through yards between two homes and came to a stop. The driver and the other passenger then fled on foot into a wooded area. The passenger, Leonel Quintana Beltran, was apprehended and arrested by assisting units approximately 10 minutes later. The driver, Gerardo Mendoza Sanchez, eluded capture for several hours but was apprehended and arrested at approximately 2230 hours after officers responded to the area again after being alerted by residents who had observed him walking though another nearby subdivision.

During the pursuit of the subjects in the Nissan, the driver of the tractor trailer unit was detained. That subject, Eriberto Hernandez Ortega, was subsequently arrested as well.

Search warrants were obtained for the Nissan and the Freightliner. Law enforcement located approximately five pounds of suspected crystal meth in the Nissan. A search of the Freightliner yielded approximately nine pounds of crystal meth concealed in the bunk area of the sleeper area of the tractor. The street value of the meth seized is estimated to be approximately $627,000.


Gerardo Mendoza Sanchez (pictured above), 18 yoa, of Phoenix, AZ
Dealing Meth (Level 2 Felony)
Resisting Law Enforcement (Felony)
Resisting Law Enforcement (A-Misdemeanor)

Leonal Misael Quintana Beltran (pictured above), 21 yoa, of Nogales, Mexico
Dealing Meth (Level 2 Felony)
Resisting Law Enforcement (A-Misdemeanor)

Eriberto Hernandez Ortega (pictured above), 60 yoa, of Phoenix, AZ
Dealing Meth (Level 2 Felony)