Posts tagged ‘calcasieu parish sheriff’s office’

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

Curbing teenage drinking

published Oct. 16, 2010
Project Know party patrols, DWI checkpoints working

Almost a year into an initiative to combat underage drinking and drunken driving in Calcasieu Parish, officials feel the mix of outreach and enforcement has made a big difference.

In law enforcement, “we hit them three ways,” said Cmdr. James McGee with the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office.

Along with random and rotating DWI checkpoints, deputies have party patrol details where they investigate calls about underage drinking.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, since the party patrols began in February:
Deputies have shut down 82 parties where underage drinking was taking place and issued 153 summonses.
Deputies have conducted 2,505 compliance checks on parish bars and businesses.
Set up 20 standard and rotating DWI checkpoints.
Stopped 1,857 vehicles.
Conducted 541 field sobriety tests.
Made 128 DWI arrests; 8 were underage drinkers.

McGee said that over a nine-month period, deputies checked about 2,500 businesses that sell liquor to make sure they weren’t selling to anyone under 21 years old.
“We have a 93 percent compliance from our businesses, so the problem now is older kids, siblings and relatives buying alcohol for teens,” McGee said. “That’s not a law enforcement issue; it’s a community and family issue that has to be addressed.”
Sgt. Jason Bergeron said officials each night investigate two or three calls placed to an anonymous hot line, along with information from school deputies.
“And we’ve drove up on quite a few parties, too,” Bergeron said. He said one of the biggest parties was broken up when a deputy saw about 30 cars parked along a street.
“He drove by and there were three teenagers, standing in the front yard, drinking beer,” Bergeron said.
McGee said school deputies are important to have on each detail because they interact with teenagers every day. The patrols are usually scheduled around teenage activities.
“We know when they’re out of school, when homecoming is at which schools, and deputies can sometimes be out every weekend,” McGee said.
Lt. Nick Fontenot said he’s gotten mostly positive feedback from parents, who are usually concerned about where the teens are getting the alcohol.
McGee and Fontenot, both parents of teenagers, said they were aware of the prevalence of underage drinking in Louisiana and were always concerned.
A 2008 survey in Calcasieu Parish found that when students were asked if they had drunk an alcoholic beverage in the past 30 days, 9.3 percent of sixth-graders said yes, and the numbers steadily increased with age.
For eighth-graders, it was 26.1 percent; for 10th-graders, 41.4 percent; and for 12thgraders, 50.7 percent.
“We were concerned and were glad to see other parents were concerned, too, because all we can do is cite these teenagers. It’s up to the parents to curb the problem,” McGee said.
Fontenot said some parents didn’t think it was illegal to supply their children with alcohol in their own homes. A parish ordinance makes it illegal to dispense alcohol to all minors.
McGee said they have also attributed a drop in overall vehicle burglaries and property crimes — 14 percent and 17 percent, compared with 2009 — to checkpoints and party patrols.
“You have kids at parties who are drinking, and they go out, they break into cars, run over mailboxes. That has been a big deal in rural areas for years, and we’re seeing those numbers go down,” McGee said.
All of the deputies said that while their part is important, education continues to make the biggest difference.
McGee said more parents are aware of research that shows drinking at an early age inhibits teens’ brain development and may cause problems later in life.
“We used to hear, ‘Well, we did it when we were younger,’ but now they know the effects and we didn’t know any of this before,” McGee said.

Anonymous tip line: 491-3618.

October 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Reward offered in 2008 murder

published Oct. 15, 2010
FBI, Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office offer $20,000 for man’s arrest

Local FBI agents on Thursday announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man wanted for a February 2008 murder.

Since April 2008, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office has had an arrest warrant and indictment for 22-year-old Jose Manuel Garcia Guevara for the slaying of his neighbor, Wanda Barton, 26.

He is charged with second-degree murder, aggravated rape and aggravated burglary.

“We believe he broke into her mobile home, raped her and then stabbed her to death,” said Sheriff Tony Mancuso.

Barton’s body was found on the morning of Feb. 20 in her south Lake Charles mobile home. Her 4-year-old son was found in the trailer unharmed.

The next day, detectives identified Garcia Guevara as a person of interest. He has been missing ever since, and officials believe he fled to his hometown of Rioverde, San Luis Potosi, in central Mexico.

Mancuso said that since the slaying two years ago, local officials have been assisted in their search by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. marshals.

Federal officials have issued a warrant for Garcia Guevara for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
He is described as being 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 185-190 pounds.

Mancuso said there is a chance Garcia Guevara has tried to travel to Dallas, Houston or New Mexico using fake documents.

“This case has been profiled on our FBI website and ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ ” said Hall Jones, senior supervisory agent for the Lafayette-Lake Charles area.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 491-3605 or the FBI at 433-6353.

October 15, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Officials push tax renewals

published Sept. 30, 2010
Moss Bluff voters hear from Beam, DeRosier, Mancuso in final town hall meeting

MOSS BLUFF — In the final town hall meeting before Saturday’s election, Calcasieu officials reiterated to Moss Bluff residents Wednesday the importance of renewing a courthouse and jail maintenance tax.

Officials said residents in Ward 1 would vote on a 3.27-mill property tax that funds facilities such as the Clerk of Court’s Office and Juvenile Justice Services. Parish Administrator Bryan Beam said these facilities were built with gambling revenues, but the parish has the responsibility to maintain them.

District Attorney John DeRosier told the crowd of about a dozen that he was confident in how the Police Jury manages money and that the board was already making budget cuts.

“With the successful passing of this tax, the Police Jury will still have to make cuts,” DeRosier said.

When asked about the consequences of the tax renewals not passing, Beam said some reserve funds and gambling revenue can cover the costs for up to two years.

“Our concern is we could lose gaming if Texas legalizes gambling,” Beam said. “As for a future revenue, we would have to try and come back with (a tax) that’s more passable.”

Sheriff Tony Mancuso said he thinks that much of the anti-tax sentiment he has heard stems from anger toward the federal government.

“The problem is the public is just mad, but I don’t think they’re so much fed up with us,” he said. “It’s in general. Times are hard, but please don’t take away what we already have.”

He said the main cuts at the Sheriff’s Office over the past two years have been made through retirement and attrition and delays in filling posts.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t want to make cuts. I think we have good programs and we run a good department,” Mancuso said. “But we’ll suffer through this like everyone else is and we’ll figure it out.”

Mancuso said he also understands that there is a trickle-down effect from his deputies being more proactive. It means more arrests, which creates more cases for the District Attorney’s Office.

“I just don’t think it’s a good idea to say, ‘We don’t want anymore taxes, even the one’s we have already. Even if it results in cutting essential services,’ ” DeRosier said.

While praising the Sheriff’s Office DARE program, Ward 1 Police Juror Shannon Spell said sometimes residents don’t see the big picture when asking for more budget cuts.

“Then when we see what the cuts do, we’re calling back saying put that back in,” Spell said.

September 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Trooper: Contraflow governor’s last resort

*published Sept. 23, 2010
Since Hurricane Rita struck Southwest Louisiana five years ago, officers say a lot has changed.

“During Rita, we didn’t have a set contraflow plan on file. We certainly didn’t plan for Texas to evacuate through our area,” said state police Sgt. Michael Edgar, a patrol shift supervisor.

Troopers were stationed along Interstate 10 to make sure traffic was flowing well.

“We decided early on that we were not going to actually investigate any crashes unless they were injury crashes. We’d just go and make sure they exchanged information,” Edgar said.

Troopers with gas cans were also stationed along the highway.

“After Rita, it didn’t take long to develop a contraflow plan,” Edgar said. “Up until then, we didn’t really think we needed it.”

Officials looked at afteraction reports, southeast Louisiana’s contraflow plan and met with DOTD officials.

“Contraflow is always a means of last resort that can only be implemented at the direction of the governor because it’s so manpower intensive,” Lt. Tim LeFleur said.

Working with other area law enforcement agencies, troopers would have to block off 32 exits and direct all traffic north and east.

Since the plan was developed, the state has never had to implement contraflow on any major highways.

*main story

Since Rita hit, U.S. 171 and U.S. 165 have been widened to four lanes through Shreveport and Interstate 10 has been widened to six lanes.

“Contraflow is only if we need to move a lot of people in a short time, and here in Southwest Louisiana, that’s not a problem,” Sgt. Ross McCain said. “We usually evacuate in stages, starting with Cameron Parish. That keeps the roads from being so congested.”

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said calling for an evacuation is always the hardest decision to make.

“I don’t know if people will always be so willing to evacuate. For Rita, the destruction from Katrina was fresh on their minds,” Mancuso said.

He said he understands that leaving costs money and encouraged people to be ready and have a little money saved.

“The sad part is we could tell them to leave and the storm side swipes us, causing minimal damage, but that’s kind of a chance we have to take living here,” he said.

Contraflow maps are available at State Police Troop D at 805 Main St.


September 23, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Suspect nabbed in Baton Rouge after standoff

A man considered a “very, very, very strong person of interest” in a local quadruple homicide was arrested Thursday afternoon in Baton Rouge.

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said 52-year-old Lee Roy Williams Jr. was arrested at about 3:30 p.m. near Lakeshore and Dalrymple drives after a brief standoff with LSU police and East Baton Rouge Parish deputies.

LSU students were notified via text message just before 3 p.m. to stay away from the area, which is just south of the campus. A second message, sent at 3:50 p.m., notified students that the man was in custody, according to the Daily Reveille newspaper.

Williams was in his blue Ford Explorer, which authorities had been searching for, and was with three people, who haven’t been identified, Mancuso said.

He said the search began Wednesday night when an Iowa police officer received information about two witnesses who encountered Williams at an Iowa hotel.

Early Thursday, a Calcasieu detective went to Baton Rouge to interview the two and learned information that helped officials determine Williams’ location.

“We called local police and within 10 minutes they called back and said they had (Williams) surrounded and they were starting negotiations,” Mancuso said.

Officers reportedly negotiated with Williams for about 15 minutes before he and the others surrendered.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office charged Williams with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer for reportedly trying to run over a detective at the scene during the standoff.

The were also assisted by Baton Rouge and state police.

Mancuso said two more detectives and two forensic investigators went to Baton Rouge to check the truck for evidence.

“We were also working with the district attorney and got a $5 million material witness bond, along with his possession of CDS warrant, so he’s not going anywhere,” Mancuso said.

Judge David Ritchie signed the warrant Thursday afternoon.

The victims, Crystal Dawn Fruge, 28, Kendrick Warren Lavergne, 29, and Terry Lynn Banks, 19, all of Lake Charles, and Jessica M. Eugene, 26, of Slidell, were found just before 10 a.m. Monday in a south Lake Charles mobile home.

Calcasieu Parish Coroner Dr. Terry Welke said all four were killed at about 3 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, but said he wouldn’t release a specific cause of death for the sake of the ongoing investigation.

Preliminary findings showed each victim suffered multiple injuries. Mancuso described the scene inside the trailer as “a mess.”

Blood was seen on the arm and foot areas of Tyvek suits worn by forensic specialists and coroner’s investigators as they collected evidence and the bodies on Monday and Tuesday.

Williams had lived in the trailer with Fruge and Eugene, and his truck was seen at the trailer on a regular basis, authorities said.

Mancuso said anyone who has additional information on the crime can call Crime Stoppers at 439-2222 or sheriff’s detectives at 491-3605.

“No matter how minor you think it is, call it in. It could help us,” he said.

September 10, 2010 at 3:15 am

Person of interest sought

Calcasieu coroner: Four were probably killed around 3 a.m. on Sept. 4.

On Tuesday, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso identified a person of interest in connection with the deaths of four people found in a mobile home south of Lake Charles Monday morning.

Lee Roy Williams, 52, formerly of Meridian, Miss., is being sought. He is listed as the owner of a Ford Explorer believed to have frequented the mobile home at Fairview Mobile Estates at 5859 Tom Hebert Road.

Williams is described as a black male who stands 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs between 350 and 400 pounds.

Mancuso said Williams was seen with the four victims the evening of Friday, Sept. 3. He lived at the trailer at some point, but was also transient. Detectives believe he had been in the Lake Area for about three months.

“He has prior arrests and convictions for involuntary manslaughter, breaking and entering in Illinois, and larceny and forgery in Mississippi,” Mancuso said.

Detectives have an unrelated arrest warrant for Williams for cocaine possession.

Mancuso wouldn’t say if there was a specific drug investigation related to Williams or any of the victims before their deaths, but said narcotics detectives were involved to help chase down leads.

“We think Williams will help us formulate a motive when we talk to him,” Mancuso said.

He said Williams is believed to have headed east, and detectives have been in touch with officers throughout Louisiana and in other states.

Calcasieu Parish Coroner Dr. Terry Welke said that all four people were killed at about 3 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 4.

The victims, Crystal Dawn Fruge, 28, Kendrick Warren Lavergne, 29, and Terry Lynn Banks, 19, all of Lake Charles, and Jessica M. Eugene, 26, of Slidell, were found just before 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 6.
Welke declined to give a specific cause of death.

Preliminary findings showed multiple injuries to each victim, and Mancuso described the scene inside the trailer as “a mess.”

Blood was seen on the arm and foot areas of Tyvek suits worn by forensic specialists and coroner’s investigators as they collected evidence and the bodies on Monday.

Mancuso said investigators finished processing the scene Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ve collected a large amount of evidence, which I think will help us,” he said.

Mancuso said detectives are still taking information from people who may know anything about the victims or Williams.

“No matter how minor you think it is, call it in. It could help us,” he said.

Residents can call Crime Stoppers at 439-2222 or the sheriff’s detectives at 491-3605.


September 9, 2010 at 8:57 pm

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