Undercover bust nets huge haul

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 14, 2002


HAHNVILLE – One of the largest undercover drug busts in St. Charles Parish history resulted in the seizure of 92 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of $300,000, and three arrests.

Three men, one of them a Harahan insurance salesman, were nabbed when they met Sunday afternoon in the parking lot of a local hotel, according to Sheriff Greg C. Champagne on Monday, after they met undercover agents and displayed the marijuana in a large box in the trunk of a car.

Arrested were John Goldsworthy, 48, a self-employed insurance salesman of 1812 Hickory Ave., Harahan; Earl Barnes, 55, an employee of Parsons-Brickerhoff contractors, and a resident of 1331 W. Johnson Ave., Aransas Pass, Texas; and Barnes’ brother-in-law, Charlie Brown, 52, 303 Club Drive, Travelers Rest, S.C.

All were charged with possession of more than 60 pounds of marijuana, a charge with a penalty, if convicted, of 10 to 50 years in prison and a fine from $50,000 to $100,000.

“It was simple, textbook undercover work,” Champagne commented. “We fooled ’em.”

The bust came after undercover officers, working in conjunction with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, got word out they were interested in a big buy. In a matter of days, the purchase was set up and planned at the St. Charles Parish location.

According to Champagne, the trio told officers they were capable of getting 200 to 300 pounds of the Mexican-origin marijuana every two weeks.

“We obviously have part of the pyramid of a drug organization,” Champagne said.

None of the trio were armed at the time of the arrests, and all surrendered peaceably when the DEA task force joined the undercover officers in the takedown. The asking price for the marijuana was $850 per pound which, when sold at $50 quarter-ounce bags, would yield $73,600. However, with adding other substances to “cut” the marijuana and stretch it, a yield of $300,000 was expected.

Bonds were set by 29th Judicial District Judge Kirk Granier at $150,000 each. At press time, Goldsworthy and Barnes were still in custody at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center, while Brown, who complained of chest pains, was treated at St. Charles Parish Hospital in Luling.

None of the suspects had a prior drug violation arrest record, according to Champagne.

He thanked the DEA for their cooperation and support.