Narcotics investigation sweeps St. John to make 26 arrests

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Since September 23, 2007, the St. John Parish Bureau of Narcotics Investigation has arrested 26 subjects in an initiative targeting narcotics dealers operating in the parish.

Det. Graham Saturley, an investigator in the bureau, said agents have been working undercover since February studying patterns and tendencies of drug dealers working in neighborhoods in LaPlace, Reserve, Garyville, and Mt. Airy. He said BNI agents came up with some specific similarities.

&#8220They usually frequent the same places, and operate in the same time frames,” said Saturley. &#8220There are also often repetitions in their mannerisms, and how they escape from situations. They know us just as well as we know them.”

Saturley said BNI agents purchased illegal narcotics, including marijuana, crack and powder cocaine, and methamphetamines from street level dealers throughout the operation. He said in some cases, agents made multiple purchases from the same subjects, usually in the same locations in the parish.

Saturley said the agency obtained 33 warrants in all, and 26 have led to arrests. He said three of the subjects taken into custody are minors. He said he hopes to have the remaining seven offenders by the end of the month.

Saturley said sweeping drug arrests of this kind are usually a yearly undertaking for the BNI, but because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the passing of Captain Octavio Gonzalez, who died in the line of duty in 2006, last time the agency conducted the operation was in 2004, when agents made 46 arrests.

Saturley said the numbers are down for 2007 because less agents are working the department pre-Katrina. He said the agency was pleased with the results, and attributes the success to better agency technology, and improved investigation skills among the agents involved.