Murder Investigation Leads to Bust of 15 Year-Old Cartel Pot Operation in Rural Indiana

Cartel Pot Operation
Photo: WANE Video Screenshot

Law enforcement officials in rural Indiana were in for a shock when they started searching a 148-acre tract of land in Delaware County during a murder investigation. The deceased owner of the property had allegedly been purchasing thousands of pounds of marijuana every year from a Mexican cartel, and a three-day search, begun on November 5, was attempting to uncover the remains of a snitch the owner had buried on his land over a decade ago.

According to WANE News and court documents:

The property had been owned by the late James “Buddy” Reynolds, who police described…as an effective marijuana kingpin who purchased some 6,000 pounds of the drug from a Mexican drug cartel annually and transported it into Indiana to his base of operations at the property north of Muncie. An informant told investigators Reynolds would either send someone to Arizona to buy marijuana at $400 per pound from a cartel, shrink-wrapped in bricks and stored in a boat that was towed behind a vehicle, or have the drug delivered for $600 per pound by a Hispanic person who only knew the English words “Buddy Reynolds.” Reynolds would then sell the marijuana at $1,600 per pound.

Reynolds eventually moved to Panama, where he died in 2012. After that, his nephew, Henry Mills, took over the operation, which police in Muncie, Indiana, have been monitoring for 15 years. When the search on Reynolds’ property started, the warrants were sealed and the process involved a cadaver dog. Authorities appeared to dig a series of shallow holes in the backyard of a home in the search area, but police wouldn’t say why they were digging them. After the warrants were unsealed on November 9, it appeared that police were searching for the body of a “snitch” that was buried on the land some time between 2001 and 2003, pointed out by a confidential informant who was used by police in the investigation of a marijuana empire believed to have been run from the property, according to WANE News.

According to court documents, police were told that empire involved various safes, money stored in plastic barrels and buried on the property, a stash of guns, and a marijuana cultivation facility on the land. Police were also informed that all the trash was burned. During the search, more than 100 investigators were on the property looking for “any items related to crimes of theft, money laundering or corrupt business influence, including money, marijuana, drug materials, firearms, safes or records.”

Officials confirmed that no human remains were found. Delaware County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Eric Hoffman told WANE News:

“It certainly is a complicated case in terms of the accusations or the allegations in the affidavit span essentially several states, if not several countries. So, putting everything together and then getting an informant to tell us some things that were otherwise unknown has been quite a difficult process.”

A review of the warrant documents indicated Reynolds had been buying large quantities of marijuana from a Mexican drug cartel in Arizona for 20 years. Most of the marijuana loads would be shrink-wrapped in a boat that would be towed behind a vehicle from Arizona to Indiana. While the court documents didn’t indicate what cartel was involved, based on the geographic location the marijuana was most likely supplied by the Sinaloa Federation or one of its subordinate criminal groups.

Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.

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