Although much of the public attention on illegal gang activity in recent years has focused on urban street gangs, a sweeping drug sting this week aims to show that a more rural menace has not gone away.
The Invaders, an outlaw motorcycle gang founded in Northwest Indiana, was spotlighted Tuesday during the mass take down of several dozen people in the region in an alleged methamphetamine ring spanning several states.
One of the top figures in the 65-count federal indictment is Timothy "Beefy" Bartruff, who once was the national president of the Invaders.
Bartruff, 50, of Kouts, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the 1980s for dealing in methamphetamines -- specifically "crank," a drug that officials say was considered an alternative to the more popular illicit drugs at the time.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Nozick said Thursday that Bartruff's associates today use what is known as the "Nazi method" of producing methamphetamines, synthesizing the drug from anhydrous ammonia, cold pills, battery acid and camping lantern fuel.
One of the homes in Kouts where the drugs were being manufactured had collectors knives hanging on the wall bearing the Invaders logo as well as a black flag emblazoned with the slogan, "Support your local Invaders," Special Agent Michael Burke said.
"Traditionally, back in the '70s and '80s, the outlaw motorcycle gangs were some of the primary traffickers of methamphetamines," said Roxann Ryan, a criminal intelligence analyst in Iowa who is affiliated with the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association. "Any criminal group will continue to operate as long as they can make money."
Former Invader member Ronald Kubiak, 50, was killed June 8 in a mysterious beating outside of a Hessville bar in an unsolved homicide. He died from severe head wounds.
A police source has confirmed that authorities are investigating whether Kubiak had any recent connection to the gang, although Kubiak was believed to have been out of the organization for more than a decade.
Though Bartruff is considered a central figure in the indictment, it's not clear whether he has been arrested. He has not been assigned a public defender, but he was not named as one of the people still at large in the sting.
It's also not clear whether Bartruff has handed off the mantle of national Invaders president to someone else. Federal officials declined to comment.
Federal records indicate the Invaders were formed in the 1960s in Gary but over the years evolved a base of operations in Cedar Lake. They're known for wearing jackets with patches depicting a green monster riding a motorcycle.
Cedar Lake Police Chief Roger Patz said Friday the town has not had any problems with the group in some time, and officials believe the members may have moved operations to rural areas to the south and east.
"Cedar Lake is no longer Invaders headquarters as far as we know," Patz said. "We have had no criminal activity attributed to them in a number of years."