By Susan Guyett
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - More than five tons of marijuana and $4.3 million in drug money were confiscated in Indianapolis after authorities noticed unusual activity at a Mexican grocery store, officials said on Monday.
United States Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett said the drug bust was the biggest in Marion County and one of the largest, if not the largest, in Indiana's history.
Hogsett praised the efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Metropolitan Drug Task Force and other officials at a morning news conference for taking the marijuana off the streets and millions away from "Mexican drug lords."
The investigation started last March when police suspected illegal activities at an Indianapolis Mexican grocery store. A tractor-trailer leaving the store was found to have $2.6 million in drug assets hidden in a false roof.
Surveillance efforts led officials to an Indianapolis warehouse containing five large metal storage containers filled with plastic-wrapped marijuana.
Jairo Ramirez, 26, Efren Perez, 20, Julio Cesar Castaneda, 36 and Tomas Toledo, 29, face charges for conspiracy to possess drugs with the intent to distribute and distributing 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. Castaneda and Toledo were also identified as being in the United States illegally.
(Writing and reporting by Susan Guyett; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune)