Murder halted in drug bust
Published 12:00 am Monday, October 16, 2006
St. John department heads arrests stopping ‘biggest drug dealer’ on West Bank, Jones says
By KEVIN CHIRI
LAPLACE – Murder, large quantities of drugs and wire taps.
It all sounds like the stuff making up a recent edition of C.S.I.: Miami.
But this week those elements of local crime were made public by St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones and U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, in a joint press conference announcing the arrest of two men that has been called the “largest drug arrest” since Jones took over as sheriff in 1996.
Louis Johnson, 27, from Edgard was arrested along with Trevor Jeffery, 31, of Vacherie, and charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine, and 500 grams or more of powder cocaine.
The arrests ended an investigation that began in Dec., 2005 and has been accumulating evidence about the entire organization.
Johnson, nicknamed “Big Dog” for what Jones said was controlling the drug activity on the West Bank of St. John Parish in particular, while also dealing drugs from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, was arrested after a wire tap on telephones being conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) revealed a murder attempt was about to come about from Johnson and Jeffery.
Johnson and Jeffery had made it clear in their telephone conversations that they planned to kill at least two men in Baton Rouge, after a recent drug deal had gone bad and “they didn’t get what they had paid for in a drug deal” Jones reported.
What makes the entire bust more interesting is that recently killed St. John Captain Octavio “Ox” Gonzalez, head of the
Narcotics Division for the sheriff, had begun the investigation in 2005 following complaints from West Bank residents about drug activity there.
Gonzalez was recently killed in the line of duty when he answered a call, and was lured by a female outside of a stolen car, then allegedly shot from behind by her accomplice. Both of those individuals have since been arrested.
“Ox has to be looking down on us right now and smiling for the job that has been accomplished here,” Jones said from his office on Thursday. “This cracks a major drug operation in the region, and that was what he was always trying to stop.”
The investigation of Johnson and Jeffery began in Dec., 2005 when information came to the St. John Sheriff’s Office that Johnson was a “high ranking member of the organization and a major distributor of cocaine in the area.”
During the course of the investigation in recent months, it was learned through the telephone taps that Johnson and Jeffrey had been robbed during a drug transaction in Baton Rouge on Oct. 4, 2006. Shortly after that, the pair planned to kidnap and murder the two men believed to be responsible for the theft.
“When we knew there was a murder being planned, we knew we had to shut the thing down,” Jones explained. “So we got with State Police and DEA, and kicked the door down and made our arrests.”
Additionally arrested in the bust was Johnson’s girlfriend Seritha Kishauwn Mitchell, charged with possession of cocaine over 400 grams and possession of a firearm with a controlled dangerous substance.
In arresting Johnson at his residence at 346 Central Ave., Edgard, agents confiscated an AK-47 assault rife, a semi-automatic handgun and over $18,000 in cash along with the drugs. They also recovered 136 grams of cocaine, approximately $1,700 in cash, and a semi-automatic handgun from Jeffrey at his home at 1333 Magnolia Heights in St. James Parish.
Johnson had previously served five years in prison for the attempted murder of another victim in Oct., 1999, pleading to aggravated battery. He was released in Jan., 2004, and immediately went back into the drug business, according to Jones.
“What really made this guy bad is that he was a high profile person who was looked up to by a lot of young people since he had money, and drove a fancy car,” Jones said. “But now the West Bank Kingpin as I like to call him is out of business and off the streets.”
Jones said he wanted to thank the residents of the West Bank for their patience in the case since many were complaining to the Sheriff’s Office about the drug activity, but knew an investigation was ongoing.
“I know a lot of people wanted it all to stop, but we were building a better case,” Lt. Troy Hidalgo, one of the key detectives on the case said. “It takes more than hearing someone is selling drugs. We have to verify information and try to ID the whole organization.”
Penalties for the charge related to the cocaine base (“crack”) include a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum term of life imprisonment, at least five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $4 million.
The penalties for the charge relating to the powder cocaine include a minimum term of five years imprisonment, and a maximum term of 40 years imprisonment, at last four years supervised release,, and a fine of up to $2 million.