A southeastern Indiana prosecutor says discrepancies uncovered during a State Police investigation of the Greensburg Police Department's evidence room could endanger 16 criminal cases.
Indiana State Police said in a statement earlier this month that an audit of the department that began in January had found "several discrepancies concerning evidence."
Both State Police and the Greensburg Police Department have declined to comment on the audit.
But Decatur County Prosecutor Nathan Harter said his office had requested the audit due to "our growing concern over physical evidence ... and our ability to establish chain of custody."
Harter provided WRTV-TV with a list of 16 defendants whose cases could be affected by the evidence that's now in question. He said his office planned to continue prosecuting those cases.
Court records show most of those defendants were arrested on drug-related charges by Greensburg officers in the city about 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis. Those include Bernabe Castillo-Moreno, who was arrested in August on two felony charges of dealing methamphetamine.
Police told the Greensburg Daily News at the time of Castillo-Moreno's arrest that he had ties to a Mexican cartel and was a primary supplier of meth in Decatur County.
Attorney Mark Jones, who is representing Castillo-Moreno as well as at least three other defendants on Harter's list, said he's keeping a close eye on the audit.
"If there's any evidence missing or that's been tampered with, obviously that bolsters our cases greatly," Jones said. "If the credibility of the police officers involved can be challenged, that I think also helps us, but probably not to the same degree."