Alleged drug smuggling ring caught

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 30, 1998

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / January 30, 1998

LAPLACE – Four St. John the Baptist Parish residents were arrestedTuesday, climaxing a three-month undercover operation.

Lt. Octavio Gonzalez, commander of the St. John Parish Bureau ofNarcotics, released few exact details Wednesday but did state the fourpeople were allegedly part of a “small, structured organization”smuggling crystal methamphetamine into the region. He said they werealso involved in selling vials of illegal anabolic steroids.

So-called “crystal meth” is a popular illegal drug among young adults,Gonzalez said.

Brad Michael Blank, 21, 170 12th Street Extension, Reserve, andChristopher David McDuffie, 21, 1509 Lafreniere Drive, LaPlace, werearrested Tuesday by Louisiana state troopers in Baton Rouge.

Blank and McDuffie were charged with possession with intent todistribute methamphetamine, a Schedule III controlled dangeroussubstance. Gonzalez added there may be more charges pending in St. JohnParish.

Two teams totaling more than 20 officers simultaneously executed searchwarrants at the above residences, arresting Tiffany Guidry, 24, fiancee ofBlank, and Scott McDuffie,19, brother of Christopher.Gonzalez said more arrests are expected soon.

Numerous weapons, vehicles, drugs and money were seized in the raids.

A traffic stop by a Louisiana State Trooper in October led to theinvestigation of the alleged multi-state smuggling operation, Gonzalezsaid.

The investigation soon involved the St. John Sheriff’s Office, LouisianaState Police, Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. DrugEnforcement Agency.

When arrested, Blank and McDuffie had just taken possession of a half-pound of methamphetamine and were headed to St. John Parish. They areeach being held on a half-million dollar bond.

Guidry was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuanaafter discovery of two ounces in her residence, possession with intent todistribute anabolic steroids, after discovery of a quantity of 200-mg vialsof the liquid, possession of drug paraphernalia and on an outstandingwarrant for issuing worthless checks of less than $100.

Scott McDuffie was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia andpossession with intent to distribute anabolic steroids.

The total estimated street value of the drugs seized in St. John Parishwas $25,000. “And that’s a low estimate,” Gonzalez observed.

Guidry is being held on a $20,000 bond set by 40th Judicial District JudgeJ. Sterling Snowdy. Scott McDuffie is being held on a $10,000 bond.

“They were probably responsible for most of the meth distribution in St.John Parish,” Gonzalez added. “Yesterday was a plus for the narcoticsoffice. Our agency is thrilled to death.”He described them as “upper-level distributors” and said they wereresponsible for 70 percent of the crystal meth in the parish.

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