Archive for February, 2011

Venezuelan man gets 19 years for cocaine smuggling

A Venezuelan man found guilty of smuggling cocaine was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in federal prison Thursday.

During trial, Carlos Hurtado-Valois, 31, claimed he didn’t know what was in the bags he and Felipe Gonzales-Valencia, 47, of Colombia, were carrying when they jumped off a ship docked in Lake Charles.

Gonzales-Valencia pleaded guilty and testified to the contrary. Jurors found Hurtado-Valois guilty in about 30 minutes.

A 911 call on Jan. 16, 2010, led Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s deputies to the two men, who were suffering from hypothermia on an island just west of Greywood golf course, officials said.

Deputies reportedly searched the island the next day and found life jackets, rope and eight duffel bags containing 176 kilograms of cocaine.

Sheriff Tony Mancuso estimated the street value of the drugs to be $6 million.

Federal agents took over the investigation and charged Hurtado-Valois and Gonzales-Valencia with conspiracy to import drugs; importation of drugs; possession with intent to distribute; and improperly entering the country.

Gonzales-Valencia was also charged with illegal re-entry.

February 4, 2011 at 2:19 am

Boys Village steadily recovering from fire

The rebuilding progress in the months since the administrative building at Boys and Girls Villages burned down has been slow and steady.

Executive director Max Matheiu said the biggest issue has been the loss of all personnel records.

“We’ve spent the past couple of months trying to get copies of all the staff’s training, like CPR and crisis intervention, and the kids’ medical records,” Matheiu said.

He said the paperwork is required for the facility to maintain its state license.

The cause of the Nov. 4 fire was listed as undetermined by the State Fire Marshal’s Office because damage was so widespread, Matheiu said.

“The main thing was that we were able to keep all of our programs operating without missing any days of service to the kids,” Matheiu said.

The facility hosts about 20 children at any given time and offers residential treatment with family or group therapy and cognitive behavior programs to teach the young residents self-control.

“In our transitional school, we offer tutoring and focus on literacy and math skills,” Mathieu said.

A fire recovery fund is set up at Cameron State Bank. Matheiu said most of the funds from it will be used to put up a new building and to purchase office equipment.

Barry King, who is on the board of directors, has designed a new building. The Old Bell Mansion, which was built in 1951, had served as the administrative building, Mathieu said.

February 3, 2011 at 2:21 am

Suspects in double slaying arrested

A Baton Rouge man was arrested Tuesday in Lake Charles in connection with a double homicide in Baton Rouge.

Patrick Ramirez, 30, was apprehended at around 7:30 p.m. as a result of the efforts of local U.S. Marshal’s Violent Offender Task Force officers, Lake Charles police and the Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s personnel.

Ramirez, who was back in Baton Rouge Wednesday morning, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Kendrick Johnson, 29, of Baton Rouge was also arrested Tuesday in connection with the case. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana

The victims were Jarrett Stanley, 28, of 2001 N. Jake St. in Lake Charles, and Tonya Wright, 27, of Baton Rouge. Their bodies were found at around noon Monday in the trunk of a 2006 Saturn Ion parked near Airline Highway in Baton Rouge.

An anonymous tip led police to the bodies and implicated Ramirez, according to the Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge.

In a search of Ramirez’s home, investigators detected human blood in the living room using a chemical and alternate light source. They also found what could be a bullet hole in an appliance that was covered with tape and fresh spray paint.

February 2, 2011 at 1:55 am

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