ATF - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

02/21/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/21/2024 15:50

Armed Methamphetamine Trafficker Sentenced to 18 Years in Federal Prison After Violent Domestic Assault

Armed Methamphetamine Trafficker Sentenced to 18 Years in Federal Prison After Violent Domestic Assault

INDIANAPOLIS - Cody Steele, 41, of Indianapolis, has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to distributing of methamphetamine and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, on May 27, 2021, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers responded to reports of shots fired on the southeast side of Indianapolis. Witnesses stated that the driver of a red Hummer shot at another vehicle and drove off. Officers quickly located the red Hummer and Cody Steele, who was the driver.

On the driver's seat, officers found a plastic bag containing approximately 404 grams of pure methamphetamine. A .38 caliber revolver with five spent casings was found on the passenger seat floorboard. On the ground outside the Hummer, officers located a loaded 7.62mm assault rifle that had been stolen. A search of Steele's person also revealed $1,853 in cash. The defendant admitted to possessing the methamphetamine with the intent to sell it and carrying the guns in furtherance of his drug trafficking.

During the course of this investigation, officers learned that the defendant was involved in an alleged domestic assault earlier on the day he was arrested. The victim reported that shortly after midnight on that day the defendant was arrested, she attempted to leave him. The defendant struck her and told her that she could not leave, and if she tried, he would kill her dogs. Later that morning, she tried to leave again, and the defendant threw a dog chain at her, hitting her in the face. He damaged her vehicle, and she was unable to use it leave. When she started to walk away, the defendant followed her in his vehicle. He had control over her dog and told her to get in his car or he would kill her dog, scaring her into entering the car.

The victim told law enforcement that the defendant drove her around for several hours. Steele would not allow her out of the vehicle. She tried to open the door several times but defendant sped up the vehicle so she couldn't exit. One time when she tried to leave, Steele bit her on the arm. Eventually they stopped at a parking lot and the victim called for help. Bystanders assisted her in retrieving one of her dogs from Steele during a physical struggle.

Employees of nearby businesses aided the victim. The victim did not call the police because she feared losing her dogs. She began to return to the residence to get her vehicle. Her vehicle had been damaged by Steele, so she had to drive slowly. As she drove, the defendant yelled at her, and she heard a gunshot. Steele pulled in behind her and rammed her vehicle, forcing her car into oncoming traffic. When she was able to pull it back into her lane Steele rammed her vehicle from behind. Steele fled the area, and a witness began to follow Steele and called 911.

Officers responded to the hospital and observed the victim to have visible bruising and swelling to her eye, a laceration and blood on her face, bruising on her arms, blood on her clothing, and seemed to have broken blood vessels in her right eye.

Steele has a lengthy criminal history, including felony convictions for domestic battery, child molestation of a ten-year-old victim, and escape. Each of these prior felony convictions prohibit Steele from ever legally possessing a firearm. The defendant was also convicted of a misdemeanor invasion of privacy for violating a no-contact order with his wife.

"This violent, repeat criminal is simply a menace to those close to him and to the community at large. His outrageous, violent conduct and armed trafficking of deadly drugs demonstrate the serious danger he poses to the public," said Zachary A. Myers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. "Guns in the hands of domestic abusers dramatically escalate the risk that they will murder those in their lives, law enforcement, or the public at large. Our community and this most-recent victim are safer today because of the excellent work of IMPD, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and our federal prosecutor to ensure this criminal is behind bars where he belongs."

ATF and IMPD investigated this case. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Matthew P. Brookman. Judge Brookman also ordered that Steele be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 4 years following his release from federal prison.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Pamela Domash, who prosecuted this case.

This case was brought as part of the LEATH Initiative (Law Enforcement Action to Halt Domestic Violence), named in honor of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Breann Leath, who was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic disturbance call. A partnership among the ATF, the IMPD, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana, the LEATH Initiative focuses federal, state, and local law enforcement resources on domestic violence offenders who illegally possess firearms.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

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Columbus Field Division