The Michigan City That Has Been Named the State’s Drug Trafficking Capital

Michigan City, a town located in LaPorte County, Indiana, has gained infamy as the drug trafficking hub of the state, as per federal authorities. Positioned near the Michigan border and Lake Michigan, this town played a pivotal role in a transnational and interstate cocaine operation involving eight individuals hailing from Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.

Ivan Huerta Hernandez, who operates out of New Buffalo, Michigan, allegedly headed this drug trafficking enterprise. He obtained his supplies from sources in Chicago, Illinois, and distributed cocaine to dealers in West Michigan and Northern Indiana through connections in Mexico.

Operation of the Drug Ring

According to the criminal complaint, the activities of the drug ring from 2020 to 2021 are outlined, providing a detailed account of the various techniques employed to transport and hide cocaine.

    • Utilizing vehicles with hidden compartments for cross-state transportation.
    • Employing the U.S. Postal Service to send packages containing cocaine or cash to different addresses.
    • Utilizing encrypted messaging apps and code words for communication.
    • Establishing stash houses and storage units to store cocaine or cash.

The complaint also claims that there is involvement in money laundering activities, which includes using shell companies and bank accounts to hide the source of the illegal funds.

Dismantling the Drug Ring

In a joint effort by the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies worked together to dismantle a drug ring. The investigation, which started in 2020, utilized various tactics such as wiretaps, electronic surveillance, confidential informants, undercover agents, search warrants, and seizures to uncover the illicit operations. On November 3, 2021, a team of approximately 90 law enforcement officers executed arrest warrants and search warrants across four judicial districts. This operation resulted in the seizure of approximately 2 kilograms of suspected cocaine, around $99,900 in cash, and the confiscation of two firearms.


Legal Consequences for the Drug Ring Members

The eight individuals who were arrested are now facing federal drug trafficking charges that come with severe penalties, including life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum of 10 years. The charges against them include conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, distribution of cocaine, and the use of communication facilities for drug trafficking offenses. Additionally, there are forfeiture allegations aimed at reclaiming any property or proceeds that were derived from or used in the drug trafficking offense.

Implications for Michigan City and Surrounding Areas

The drug ring bust is a significant accomplishment for law enforcement, but it raises concerns for Michigan City and the surrounding communities.

    • The extent of the drug problem in Michigan City and neighboring towns, with reports indicating increased drug activity.
    • The effects of the drug problem on public health and safety, including overdose deaths, infections, violent crimes, and property crimes.
    • Long-term solutions, as suggested by experts, involve a comprehensive approach encompassing prevention, education, treatment, and enforcement.


Michigan City, a small town in Indiana, became notorious as the drug trafficking hub of the state. It gained this reputation after federal authorities dismantled a transnational cocaine ring that operated from 2020 to 2021. The drug ring utilized different techniques to transport and hide their illicit substances. Thanks to a joint investigation, law enforcement made arrests, confiscated drugs, and brought federal charges with severe penalties. While this operation was a triumph for authorities, it also highlights the pressing need for a comprehensive strategy to tackle the intricate problem of drug trafficking and its impact on affected communities.

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