A press conference was held March 5 to discuss the arrest of two suspects in Natchitoches Parish and the seizure of almost 9 pounds of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of $350,000-475,000.
The Natchitoches Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force (NMJDTF) made the arrest in Natchitoches after receiving information from the Rapides and Grant Parish Sheriff’s Offices. The cooperation and communication between agencies is what made it all possible. The NPD and NPSO have worked together in the NMJDTF since it was started in 1995.
This case in particular is a bit unique because it stems from the RPSO Narcotics Unit and the Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office. Drug dealers aren’t just sitting in one place. They’re in Texas, Rapides Parish, Pineville, Natchitoches. They’re spreading it out, so agency cooperation is important.
The vacuum sealed 8.2-8.3 ounce packages that were seized have the potential to turn into about 3,900 doses on the streets. For every gram (every sugar pack) that’s anywhere from $100-150 they’re paying for that high.
“It doesn’t look like a lot but it can turn into a lot once it hits the street,” said Taitano. “This is pretty big for our area. A drug bust of this size isn’t seen in our town that often. This would be a very big bust for any local/state agency outside of the DEA.”
While there’s also no way to tell if the drugs would have stayed locally in the Natchitoches area, meth is a growing problem.
“There’s a lot of dope coming into these rural parishes,” said Rapides Parish Sheriff-Elect Mark Wood. “I-49 is turning into a corridor and these little communities are drop off places. Hopefully we can get together and fight the bad guys.”
This high grade methamphetamine is what they’re seeing the most of besides synthetic marijuana. In the past it used to be made in back yards and in bath tubs. Then the state made it hard to get the main ingredient, pseudoephedrine. With ingredients harder to obtain, back yard operations aren’t really around anymore. Now organizations south of the border are taking over. From the way this seizure was packaged and the way it looks, this tells officials that it came from a very big lab.
NMJDTF Commander Nikeo Collins stated that in the current market there’s a constant pipeline with meth crossing the border on a daily basis. They’re creating a higher quality product in large warehouses in Mexico and other countries unimpeded.
Another aspect is how highly addictive meth is. One time is all it takes. It’s destroying thousands of lives and ruining families every single day.
Another consideration is the strong connection to violent crimes that drugs have. A gun was confiscated along with the drugs.
“Where we see this [meth], we see this [gun],” said Taitano.
The general public needs to know that everyone who chooses to illegally purchase this substance, takes a risk. They don’t know what other drugs were added to it and they stand the chance of taking a hit they were used to and overdosing immediately. The main goal for the producer is to get everyone high, get them addicted, and get the money.
While the case originated in Natchitoches Parish, intel from Rapides and Grant was integral in taking the suspects into custody. A traffic stop led to a search warrant for a residence in Natchitoches. The NPSO’s federal partners will be brought in on this case. An investigation is ongoing so information on the suspects is not being released at this time. However, one suspect was known to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office as a distributor.
Involved in the press conference and investigation are: Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office Cpt. Jesse Taitano, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff-Elect Stuart Wright, Natchitoches Parish District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington, Natchitoches Police Department Lt. Nikeo Collins (NMJDTF Commander), Natchitoches Police Department Captains Susan Johnson and Brad Walker, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones, Rapides Parish Sheriff-Elect Mark Wood, Rapides Sheriff’s Office Mjr. Kerry Beebe, and Grant Parish Sheriff Steve McCain.