NOBLE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Federal and local law enforcement took down a major marijuana operation in Noble County that was used to funnel illegal drugs to students at West Noble High School, according to Noble County Prosecutor Eric Blackman.
Blackman said agents from the DEA, Noble County Sheriff’s Department and Ligonier Police Department conducted a search warrant at a home in the 400 block of East 4th Street in Ligonier Friday morning.
The investigation was spurred by a number of incidents at West Noble High School. The high school principal, Amanda Nine, said 20 students have either been suspended or expelled this school year due to marijuana-related incidents.
In November, administrators discovered students at the school were in possession of marijuana-laced lollipops.
Blackman said through the course of the investigation they discovered the source of the marijuana was a 16-year-old student, who has not been identified.
“He had gotten to the point where he really was the head of a rather sophisticated distribution network at 16 years old,” Blackman said.
The prosecutor said the student even made trips to California and Colorado to bring pounds of marijuana and marijuana-laced items back to Indiana. Blackman pounds of marijuana were found during the search along with about $4,000 cash. The teen apparently posted about his trips to buy the drugs on social media.
“He essentially had bragged about going to Colorado and shared on Facebook and other social media how he was out there and was purchasing,” Blackman said. “He also talked about going to Las Vegas and one of the items you see in the photograph is a bag from Caesar’s.”
Blackman said it’s the most sophisticated drug ring he’s ever seen in a school and he’s confident this case will halt the flow of drugs into the halls of West Noble.
As for the teen, Blackman is looking at the possibility of waiving him to adult court because of the severity of the crimes.
“If he is eligible I do believe that this is the type of offense that we would look at that very seriously for because the one thing the legislature did leave in is they have made it a level five felony to deal marijuana to a minor,” Blackman said.
While only one teen is in custody at this time, that could change. Blackman said as many as five students were potentially involved in distributing the drugs. The investigation is ongoing.
“I am pleased that we were able to act quickly to address this problem,” Blackman said. “We take community safety, and especially school safety, very seriously. This incident also provides an important reminder that parents need to be vigilant. All children deserve the opportunity to grow up in a drug-free environment, and we will continue to work together to be sure they get that chance.”
The 16-year-old is currently detained at the Allen County Juvenile Center.