Drug overdose leads to major bust
CLOVERDALE -- Nine people were arrested as the result of a drug bust that happened Tuesday in Cloverdale.
Joseph Taylor, 31, Lance Morrison, 23, Ileen Gomez, 21, William Morrison, 53, and Sonya Morrison, 50, and Tina Stillabower, 51, all of Putnam County, and Michael Woods, 21, Samuel Robertson, 30, and Robin Carwile, 21, all of Spencer, were arrested and booked into the Putnam County Jail.
William Morrison and Sonya Morrison both posted $7,500 surety bonds and were released from jail.
Bond was set at $10,000 with 10 percent allowed or $7,500 surety for Woods; $30,000 cash only for Gomez; $10,000 cash or $3,500 surety for Carwile and $20,000 cash for Stillabower.
Joseph Taylor and Lance Morrison are both being held without bond.
None of the suspects has been formally charged. All are awaiting initial hearings.
Putnam County Sheriff's Department Reserve Deputy Nate O'Hair said the bust was set in motion by a report of a drug overdose at 1000 S. 700E in Cloverdale at about 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.
O'Hair said when he and Putnam County Sheriff's Department Lt. Dwight Simmons went to that address, they discovered the parents of Gina Ballenger, 22, calling an ambulance for their daughter.
Ballenger was transported to the Putnam County Hospital, where it was confirmed she had overdosed on heroin.
Reports from other news agencies said Ballenger had died; however, a Putnam County Hospital representative told the Banner Graphic Wednesday morning that Ballenger was still listed in the hospital's patient records, and that she was in good condition.
As of 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ballenger was no longer listed as a patient at the hospital.
After O'Hair and Simmons assisted Ballenger's parents with getting their daughter to the hospital, the officers returned to Ballenger's home, where her parents allowed them to search their daughter's room.
"We removed a syringe and a spoon," O'Hair said.
Ballenger's parents then told O'Hair and Simmons that someone had delivered heroin to their daughter earlier on Monday evening. They provided the officers with a description of the vehicle they believed that person was driving.
The officers, who were riding in an unmarked car, began searching for the vehicle Ballenger's parents had described. Shortly after, they saw Robertson driving the car. Lance Morrison was a passenger.
"I took Lance into custody and Robertson took off," O'Hair said. "A foot pursuit followed between Robertson and Lt. Simmons."
O'Hair and Simmons then secured search warrants for Robertson's apartment at Midway Motel, located at 2007 N. Main St. in Cloverdale.
After finding drug-related materials in Robertson's apartment, the officers got search warrants for the rest of the Midway apartments and the surrounding properties.
The search turned up a small methamphetamine lab in a horse trailer, 160 marijuana plants and various drug paraphernalia items including Sudafed, Liquid Fire, tubing and syringes.
O'Hair said it appeared the drug operation had been up and running for some time.
O'Hair said other arrests in connection with the bust are expected.
William and Sonya Morrison are the owners of the Midway.
Representatives from the Putnam County Board of Health and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management arrived at the property shortly after the bust.
Although it had been reported that the motel had already been condemned, a Board of Health representative said Wednesday morning that was not the case. She said the department was still in the process of investigating the complaint against the motel.
Ballenger was on home detention through Putnam County Community Corrections for a 2008 Class A misdemeanor conversion conviction. Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said a warrant for her arrest for violation of home detention would be forthcoming.
A charge of Class B misdemeanor battery against Ballenger is pending in Putnam County Superior Court. A trial is scheduled for September.
Ballenger's criminal history in Putnam County also includes convictions for battery, possession of paraphernalia and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person. She has also been convicted for several probation violations.