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1 ton of marijuana hidden under appliance wholesale operation seized

– Someone wanted it to look like a wholesale appliance operation – warehouses and trucks with shipments of washers and dryers and chest freezers.

According to court documents, it appeared to be some kind of wholesale business, though not so much for the appliances but rather large amounts of Mexican marijuana.

This week, more than a ton of marijuana was seized from a truck, packed in a number of freezers.

It was the largest seizure of marijuana in Fort Wayne since 6,700 pounds – more than three tons – were seized from Matthew McChesney six years ago.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of 50-year-old Martin Gonzalez Medina, an Indianapolis man now facing a charge of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

The 2-year-investigation into Medina’s activities revealed he wanted to set up warehouses in Texas and Indiana for the purpose of shipping loads of pot concealed in what would look like a legitimate cover of appliances, court records said.

Through investigative techniques, officers with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force in northeast Indiana learned Medina established a fictitious business in January with phony paperwork and a bank account, according to court documents.

The task force consists of federal agents from the DEA and IRS, as well as agents from the Steuben and Noble county sheriff’s departments and Fort Wayne Police Department.

Medina said he leased a warehouse in Texas to package and ship the pot, then leased a warehouse in Fort Wayne, according to court documents.

In February, Medina met with an informant at his Fort Wayne warehouse and discussed an upcoming shipment from his warehouse in Texas.

In March, he told the informant they were ready to start running empty trucks between the warehouses, according to court documents. Later in the month, he talked with the informant about the “big opening” or the shipment of the first load of marijuana from Texas to Fort Wayne, concealed in the appliances.

On Monday, Medina was arrested at a local hotel room. Earlier in the day, the Fort Wayne Police Emergency Services Team entered the warehouse off Industrial Road and secured the loaded box truck and the building.

After opening the freezers in the truck, officers found 2,160 pounds concealed in 12 freezers and wrapped in nearly 100 bundles varying in size and weight, according to court documents.

Jack Riley, the DEA special agent in charge of the Chicago Field Division, said in a statement Wednesday that the shipment was among the largest in the area in recent years.

“This seizure shows that large-scale criminal drug trafficking organizations continue to try to use Fort Wayne both as a local distribution center and a trans-shipment point for distribution to other states,” Riley said.

In the unrelated case from 2008, McChesney is serving 27 years in federal prison.

An alleged associate, Michael Fabini, awaits trial on a federal indictment of conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

In an unrelated case, two men were charged last month after 582 pounds of marijuana were found in a home in the 8000 block of Auburn Road.

rgreen@jg.net

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