The Michigan City Known as the State’s Drug Trafficking Epicenter


Federal authorities claim that Michigan City, a community in LaPorte County, Indiana, has become known as the state’s epicenter of drug trafficking. The town was the hub of a transnational and interstate cocaine conspiracy that included eight people from Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. It was located close to the Michigan border and Lake Michigan.

This drug trafficking enterprise was allegedly led by New Buffalo, Michigan-based Ivan Huerta Hernandez, who allegedly obtained supplies from sources in Chicago, Illinois, through contacts in Mexico, and then distributed cocaine to dealers in West Michigan and Northern Indiana.

The Drug Ring’s Operation

The drug ring’s operations from 2020 to 2021 are described in full in the criminal complaint, which also describes the several ways cocaine is transported and hidden.

  • Using cars with secret compartments for interstate travel.
  • using the USPS to deliver packages containing cash or cocaine to various destinations.
  • using code words and encrypted messaging applications to communicate.
  • creating storage facilities and stash homes to keep cash or drugs.

In addition, money laundering actions are alleged in the complaint, including the use of bank accounts and shell businesses to conceal the source of the illegal payments.

Breaking Up the Drug Ring

The drug ring was dismantled as a result of the combined efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations that make up the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). In order to unearth the operations, the investigation began in 2020 and used wiretaps, electronic monitoring, confidential informants, undercover agents, search warrants, and seizures. About 90 law enforcement officers carried out search and arrest orders on November 3, 2021, in four different judicial districts. As a consequence, two weapons, about $99,900 in cash, and about two kilograms of suspected cocaine were seized.

Legal Repercussions for Participants in the Drug Ring

Federal drug trafficking accusations against the eight people who were arrested include harsh punishments, such as life in prison and a mandatory minimum of ten years. The use of communication facilities for drug trafficking activities, distribution of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine are among the charges. Reclaiming any assets or money obtained from or utilized in the drug trafficking activity is the purpose of forfeiture claims.

Consequences for Michigan City and the Neighborhood

Although the drug ring bust is a noteworthy accomplishment for law enforcement, Michigan City and the surrounding towns are concerned about it:

The severity of the drug problem in Michigan City and the surrounding communities, as reports suggest a rise in drug use.
impacts of drug abuse on public health and safety, such as infections, overdose deaths, violent crimes, and property crimes.
Experts recommend a holistic approach that includes treatment, education, prevention, and enforcement as long-term remedies.


Ivan Huerta Hernandez’s international cocaine conspiracy features Michigan City, Indiana, as one of its main drug trafficking hubs. On November 3, 2021, arrests and seizures were made as a result of the recent dismantling of the drug ring, which was made possible by federal, state, and local law enforcement, including the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). Severe federal drug trafficking accusations against the eight people now include forfeiture demands for assets that were confiscated. Despite this progress, worries about the expanding drug problem in Michigan City and the surrounding areas remain, leading experts to stress the need for long-term solutions that need a comprehensive strategy that includes treatment, education, prevention, and enforcement.

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