Posts tagged ‘combined anti-drug task force’

Fourteen-month drug ring investigation nets 10 arrests

Task Force still on lookout for four

A 14-month investigation into drug activity in the DeQuincy area ended Monday morning as members of the Combined Anti-Drug Task Force arrested 10 people.

CAT director Billy Chapman described Terry Holmes, 35, of 405 Booker St. in DeQuincy, as the ring leader and the area’s main supplier of crack. Holmes was charged with two counts of cocaine distribution, and his bond was set at $500,000.

Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier said authorities are trying to seize Holmes’ assets, which include a home and a laundromat. Others arrested (all are from DeQuincy unless noted):
Darius M. Armstead, 20, 1103 Truth St. — two counts of cocaine distribution; $100,000 bond. Armstead was in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on other charges. Willie Recard Jr., 22, 808 Paul Robertson Road — one count of cocaine distribution; $25,000 bond. Eldridge J. “E.J.” Smith, 42, 738 Roland Patillo Road — two counts of cocaine distribution; $50,000 bond. Willie G. “June” Snell Jr., 39, 773 Douglas Road — one count each of distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine; $350,000 bond. Joshua E. Rock, 23, 1010 West St. — one count of cocaine distribution; $40,000 bond. Norris L. Williams, 60, 814 Paul Roberston Road — two counts of cocaine distribution; $50,000 bond. Japheal J. Griffin, 18, 106 Jefferson St. — theft; $5,000 bond. Griffin was in the parish jail on other charges. Jimmy E. Hardy, 45, 1601 W. Fourth St. — one count of cocaine distribution; $50,000 bond. James L. Brock, 54, 151 Big Woods Road, Starks — three counts of cocaine distribution.

Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said the investigation was launched after a community meeting in which DeQuincy City Council members and residents voiced their concern about drug activity in the city. With information from residents, CAT members began making undercover drug buys to identify the people who sold drugs for Holmes.

DeRosier said Holmes’ case will be presented to the U.S. attorney in hopes of taking the case to federal court. Police are still looking for four men:
Christopher J. Alfred, 23, 1109 Banneker St. — one count of cocaine distribution. Joshua E. Brooks, 20, 223 Logan Lane — three counts of cocaine distribution. He is also wanted as a suspect in a series of home invasions in south Lake Charles. Timothy Bushnell, 23, 1108 Allen St. — two counts of cocaine distribution. Matthew O. Estelle, 24, 207 Jefferson St. — two counts of cocaine distribution.

Anyone with information on the men can call Crime Stoppers at 439-2222 or the CAT tip line at 491-1511. DeRosier said he will prosecute anyone who harbors the men.

Mancuso said that during the investigation, detectives also learned about a theft ring and distributors of methamphetamine and illegal prescription pills.

“This investigation has come to a conclusion, but we’re not finished here in DeQuincy,” Mancuso said. “We have a few more operations that have stemmed from this one.”


April 27, 2010 at 7:14 pm

C.A.T officials report increase in meth labs


Laws meant to target drug suppliers may have contributed to an increase in other drug issues, Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon said Tuesday in announcing the Combined Anti-Drug Task Force’s 2009 statistics.

“In 2008, we did not have any meth labs,” he said. “In 2009, we had 21, and so far this year we’ve recovered four.”

Dixon said new state laws focusing on drug monitoring have made it harder for people to get the usual ingredients to make methamphetamine.

“Unfortunately, we are now seeing people going to the ‘shake and bake’ or ‘one pot’ method,” he said. “Now they don’t need red phosphorus and ammonia.”

Dixon said the new method is extremely volatile, and he pointed to Friday’s explosion at the Days Inn on Lakeshore Drive as an example.

“This guy had overused some ingredients, and it exploded,” he said. “It blew out the wall frame, the air conditioner and threw glass 30 to 40 yards.”

The suspect is in a Baton Rouge hospital burn center. Dixon said he will be arrested when he’s released.

Dixon said the jump in meth lab numbers is a big concern and that the task force will investigate all tips related to “such a dangerous substance.”

“It is literally household ingredients — fertilizer, household cleaners or lye,” said Lt. Billy Chapman, task force director. “It’s going to be a problem for a while.”

“The key here is the public,” said Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso. “When you smell strong chemicals, or your neighbors are very secretive, call us. You can do this anonymously.”

At the news conference, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier outlined the task force’s work with Texas officials.

“Working with the Houston Police Department, DEA and Harris County District Attorney’s Office, we recently arrested several people involved in an illegal painmanagement clinic in Houston,” he said.

DeRosier said most illegal drugs and prescription medicines entering Southwest Louisiana come via Houston.

Over the past five years, Texas has enacted legislation similar to that of Louisiana that monitors the amount of prescription and other drugs.

DeRosier said that during the next Texas legislative session, which begins in January, Harris and Jefferson county senators will present a doctor-shopping bill that didn’t make it through the last session.

“This is one of the major steps that we think will severely cripple the pain-management clinic industry in Southeast Texas,” DeRosier said.

He said Jefferson County — home to Beaumont and Port Arthur — is seeing a steady increase in prescription pill overdose deaths, similar to what Calcasieu Parish experienced from 2005 to 2007.

“Shutting down these clinics is going to stop thousands, if not millions, of pills from coming into Louisiana,” DeRosier said.

The drug task force, started in 2005, comprises officers from local police departments, Calcasieu deputies, and FBI and U.S. Border Patrol agents.

It consists of three teams — undercover operatives, tip investigators and interdiction agents — who target people moving large quantities of drugs through the parish.

“Working together, this brings resources that smaller agencies don’t usually have,” said Iowa Police Chief Keith Vincent. “It’s definitely making an impact, and for that I am grateful.”

For more information or to provide a tip, call CAT detectives at 337-491-1511.


March 10, 2010 at 7:13 pm

4,500 pills found during traffic stop

*published Nov. 20, 2009

Bags and pills recovered from Thursday’s traffic stop. BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

A traffic stop on Interstate 10 on Thursday led to the discovery of about 4,500 prescription pills, authorities said.

Cpl. William Kettler, a drug task force member, reportedly stopped Chasady L. Hargrave, 24, of Houma, at about 2 p.m. on I-10 East near Enterprise Boulevard.

A search of the car, done with Hargrave’s consent, turned up 25 paper bags, each containing four bottles of pills, authorities said. The drugs — including 3,000 hydrocone pills and 1,500 alprazolam, or Xanax, pills — are worth about $30,000, officials said.

Lt. Billy Chapman said officers aren’t sure what the other two types of pills were. None of the bottles had labels, authorities said.

The most common way for people to get large quantities of prescription drugs is to “doctor shop” and take the same prescription to multiple pain management clinics, acquiring a month’s worth of pills at each place.

“This is new, so our officers are still trying to figure out where these came from,” Chapman said.

Hargrave was charged with possession of Schedules III and IV drugs with intent to distribute.


November 20, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Local police break record for seized prescriptions

*Nov. 9, 2009
Task force director: Cooperation between states, laws necessary

Local law enforcers seized more than 3,100 prescription pills last week, pushing them past their 2008 record of 7,244 illegal pills confiscated, according to Combined Anti-Drug Task Force statistics.

Director Lt. Billy Chapman says he thinks good law enforcement has contributed to those numbers, but there are other factors that are more important.

In 2007, 56 people overdosed on prescription drugs in Calcasieu Parish. In 2008, there were 33 overdoses. So far this year, there have been 23.

“It’s a gradual decrease as we get everything working together,” Chapman said.

“Everything” isn’t just in Louisiana. Chapman said about 95 percent of all illegal drugs in Southwest Louisi–ana are coming from southeast Texas.

“We have local and federal officers we speak to every week in Houston and Orange and Beaumont,” Chapman said. “But they (in Texas) don’t have the laws in place yet to make arrests.”

The laws he is referring to would be similar to doctor shopping, drug-monitoring and labeling statutes in Louisiana that have been passed in the past three or four years.

A doctor-shopping bill would make it a felony to have a prescription filled at multiple clinics or pharmacies within a certain amount of time.

The Louisiana prescription drug-monitoring law gave the go-ahead to set up a database — accessible only by doctors, pharmacists and law enforcers — that shows how much of a scheduled drug was prescribed to a person in the state.

The most-recent law passed in Louisiana was to change Soma from a legend drug to a schedule IV drug. As a legend drug, doctors and pharmacists did not have to report how much of the drug they were prescribing and dispensing.

“This was a big step, because Soma is part of that trilogy of pills — along with hydrocodone and Xanax — people are getting when they doctor shop.

These laws have made it difficult to get large quantities of prescription pills in Louisiana, but a large supply is available across the border in Texas.

Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier had been working with Texas legislators to push through tougher regulations of prescription pills.

In this latest session, Texas passed a law that required all pain management clinics to be owned by a physician registered with the state board of health.

“Before, anybody could own a clinic and hire a doctor to run it,” Chapman said. “So what we were finding is the doctor was only there a few days a week and doctor’s assistants and nurses were writing the majority of the prescriptions.”

Texas’ Legislature meets every two years, instead of every year.

“People always need to understand that this takes time,” Chapman said. “When we got the prescription monitoring law passed, it took another year for us to get the database set up, and there is always something we can fix.”

A doctor-shopping bill will be presented in the next Texas Legislature.

“After that we’ll be rocking and rolling,” Chapman said. “The goal is always to stop it from even getting out there.”


November 9, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Police believe meth lab cause of hotel fire

*published Nov. 4, 2009

Drug task force officers are investigating a fire at the Isle of Capri Casino hotel that they believe was caused by someone operating a methamphetamine lab.

“We think someone was operating the meth lab and a fire started and the suspects just ran off, endangering the lives of everyone on that floor,” said Westlake Police Chief Jeremy Cryer.

He said that at about 6 p.m. Monday, Westlake firefighters responded to a call on the sixth floor of the hotel, where “they found chemicals that they determined were used in a mobile meth lab.”

Cryer said a state hazardous-materials crew was brought in and that the case has been handed to the Combined Anti-Drug Task Force.

Detectives are searching for the suspects.


November 4, 2009 at 10:21 am

$68,000 worth of drugs seized

*published Nov. 3, 2009

Three traffic stops on I-10 lead to busts
Three separate traffic stops on Interstate 10 last week led to the seizure of more than $68,000 in prescription pills and illegal drugs — not record confiscations but a “significant pop,” said Lt. Billy Chapman, director of the Combined Anti-Drug Task Force.

At 6 p.m. Oct. 25, officers reportedly stopped Sylvinnia S. Moore, 28, and Samantha J. Lewis, 21, both of Mobile, Ala., on Interstate 10 in Lake Charles and found 120 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of their rented vehicle. They were traveling from Houston to Mobile, officers said.

At 9 p.m. Oct. 28, officers reportedly stopped Jonathan K. Kennerson, 23, of Houston, and Camiece M. Groves, 21, of Huffman, Texas, and found three bags — with 2,016 hydrocodone pills and 504 Xanax pills — hidden in the fender of their car. Kennerson was going to Lafayette, officers said.

At about midnight Oct. 29, officers stopped John H. LeGros, 30, of Roanoke, near Vinton and found 613 Lorcet pills and 46 Somas in his vehicle.

Sheriff Tony Mancuso said the seizures were significant because District Attorney John DeRosier has been working hard to help control prescription drug abuse in the area.

“These are the pills that have been killing our young people in Calcasieu Parish,” DeRosier said.

He said state doctor-shopping laws and prescription pill monitoring systems have made it difficult for people to get such large amounts of drugs in the state.

“We made strides this year with the Texas Legislature passing laws to regulate pain management clinics,” he said. “We still have to get a doctor shopping statute there.”


Mancuso said agencies here are working with the Houston police, Harris Country deputies, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and drug task forces in Lafayette and Mobile.

“It’s been so important to combine our efforts with other local and federal law enforcement,” Mancuso said. “We have major waterways and a major interstate coming through the parish.”

Sgt. Gene Pittman with the local task force said well over 90 percent of the drugs in the area come in through Houston.


November 3, 2009 at 10:13 am

Calcasieu meth lab 10th found in ’09

South Lake Charles drug operation leads to 3 arrests
*published July 18, 2009
The methamphetamine lab that was dismantled Thursday was the 10th one found in Calcasieu Parish this year, authorities said.

“It seems to work in cycles,” said Lt. Billy Chapman with the parish drug task force. “We have not been inundated like other areas of the country, but we certainly have our issues with the drug.”

Most of the labs authorities find are small scale, with operations that produce enough of the drug for four or five people, Chapman said. These home labs usually can only produce 10 to 15 grams at a time, he said.

Chapman said most of the meth entering the area is a finished product smuggled in from along the Mexico-U.S. border through Houston. He said it originates in “super labs” that can produce the drug several kilograms at a time.

The people who ran the meth lab that local authorities discovered this week mixed their chemicals in one container to produce the drug, Chapman said. The concoction — including ammonia and other noxious substances — builds up pressure as it cooks and can explode, he said.

Calcasieu detectives, state police and Drug Enforcement Administration officers worked until about 11:30 p.m. Thursday to dismantle the lab, which was found at 215 Heather St. in south Lake Charles.

The incident reportedly began at about 4:30 p.m. when narcotics detectives went to the home to investigate drug activity. When they arrived, they smelled methamphetamine cooking, officials said.

Three people were arrested. Jordan R. Sarvaunt, 22, was charged with operating a clandestine lab and possession of hydrocodone.

John A. Petty, 33, was charged with operating a clandestine lab, possession of Xanax and methamphetamine, and illegally carrying a weapon.

Erica N. Smith, 23, was charged with operating a clandestine lab.

Along with methamphetamine, detectives reportedly found 10 Xanax pills and 17 hydrocodone pills.

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July 19, 2009 at 1:33 am