Four from River Parishes region nabbed in Ascension Parish raid

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 25, 2004


Staff Reporter

BATON ROUGE – Federal grand jury indictments were issued Tuesday against one St. John the Baptist Parish man and three St. James ParIsh men for distributing illegal narcotics in Ascension Parish, said United States Attorney David R. Dugas.

According to Dugas, the DEA, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Gonzales Police Department deployed arrest teams in the Gonzales area Tuesday morning to arrest 36 individuals indicted.

Local residents arrested include:

€ Laron Esko, 32, of 254 Marigold St., Mt. Airy.

€ Tyrus Cooper, 26, of 1346 Ezipore St., Gramercy.

€ Kenneth White, 26, of 2487 West Lebray St., Lutcher.

€ Jyvonna Gross, 20, of 2494 N. Courseault St., Lutcher.

Narcotics Commander Capt. Octavio R. Gonzalez, with the St. John the Baptist Parish, was called about the arrest of Esko.

Gonzalez said, “We received numerous complaints about Esko’s drug activities. Subsequent to these complaints, we also received calls from neighboring authorities that Esko was under investigation for drug sales. We waited for the DEA investigation to be concluded. As a result of their investigation, Esko was indicted.”

The indictments resulted from a three-month deployment of the DEA New Orleans Field Division’s Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) to Gonzales. The operation was requested by the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Gonzales Police Department.

Initial appearances for the defendants were conducted Tuesday afternoon before Magistrate Judges in the Middle District of Louisiana.

Dugas said, “This MET deployment has been one of the most successful conducted by the New Orleans Mobile Enforcement Team and should result in a significant reduction in drug trafficking and related criminal activity in Ascension Parish. The MET concept relies heavily on the support and assistance of local law enforcement authorities who provide the drug trafficking intelligence and local knowledge essential to successful drug investigations. I want to commend Sheriff Wiley, Chief Landry and their departments for their professional and tireless support of this investigation.”

Created in 1995 by DEA, the MET program helps local law enforcement agencies attack drug organizations in their areas.

Local police chiefs and sheriffs can submit requests to the DEA for a MET deployment in their area. Upon arrival, the entire MET is deployed to the community to work with local law enforcement in a coordinated investigation of drug trafficking organizations in the community.

Areas where MET teams have been successfully deployed typically see a reduction in drug trafficking activities and in other drug related crimes – including violent crimes.

It is important to note that an indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe offenses have been committed by the defendants.

The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless they are proven guilty at trial.