Release Date: 
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Elkhart County Interdiction and Covert Enforcement Unit (ICE) is comprised of officers from the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department and the Goshen Police Department “Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE“ELKHART COUNTY INTERDICTION COVERT ENFORCEMENT (I.C.E.) UNIT RECOVERS SHERIFF’S STOLEN M-16 MACHINE GUN – SUSPECT ARRESTED”MEDIA CONTACT:  Curtis T. Hill, Jr., 296-1880In June of 2008, an M-16 military-style rifle, which was locked and secured in an Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department squad vehicle, was stolen when that vehicle was brazenly damaged and the rifle removed while it was parked at the home of a deputy sheriff on the south side of the City of Elkhart.  All area law enforcement agencies, as well as the Federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Task Force, were alerted to the theft of the fully-automatic rifle.  I.C.E. made recovery of the fully-automatic rifle a priority and developed intelligence information regarding the stolen weapon while engaged in the course of its recent investigation into a Mexican cocaine importation and distribution ring that has thus far resulted in the arrest of five Mexican males that had been arrested over the past two weeks.   Based upon information developed by I.C.E., an arrest warrant was issued on Thursday, August 7, 2008, and at approximately 5:45 p.m. on said date, officers assigned to the Elkhart County I.C.E. Unit, along with officers from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, arrested Jesse M. Leal, age 32, outside of his home at 414 Concord Avenue, Elkhart, without incident.Leal’s bond has been set in the amount of $150,000 and he has been formally charged with Possession of a Machine Gun, a Class C Felony, and Theft, a Class D Felony.  Leal faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted.Along with the recovery of the weapon, I.C.E. further recovered the ammunition and magazines that were stolen, as well.“The audacity required to break in to a locked police vehicle and forcibly remove a secured, fully-automatic weapon requires officers trained in the gathering of useful intelligence to bring them to justice,” said Prosecuting Attorney Curtis T. Hill, Jr.  “I.C.E. not only busted up a Mexican drug operation, but utilized that information to remove a menacing threat (M-16 rifle) to public safety.”  ***