St. John cocaine bust nets $51,000 in drugs

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 7, 2008

By ROBIN SHANNON                     

Staff Reporter

RESERVE – A 36-year-old LaPlace man was taken into custody Saturday after being found in possession of over $51,000 worth of cocaine and marijuana, along with a handgun, during a routine traffic stop in Reserve last weekend, according to St. John Sheriff’s Office authorities.

Arresting deputies said the man also made an attempt to flee the scene with his stash of drugs, before being restrained by officers.

Maj. Mike Tregre, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, said a deputy patrolling Central Avenue in Reserve observed a blue Cadillac Deville, driven by Willie Henderson Jr., that appeared to have illegally tinted windows.

When the vehicle pulled over, Henderson exited and walked quickly toward the front of the deputy’s unit. The deputy said Henderson appeared to be very nervous and repeatedly asked why he was being stopped.

According to a Sheriff’s Office report, when the deputy went to check the tint, he discovered a .45-caliber handgun lying on the driver’s side floorboard. The deputy retrieved the weapon and secured it in his patrol car.

Tregre said Henderson became increasingly nervous, and deputies asked if there was anything else inside the vehicle. Henderson reportedly told deputies “you got my gun, go look and see what else you can find.”

Tregre said upon further inspection, the arresting officer found a large plastic bag filled with a white powder, later identified as cocaine, sitting under the driver’s seat.

When the deputy reported his discovery to the lieutenant on the scene, Henderson began to struggle and tried to run away. When the deputy placed the bag on the trunk of the vehicle to help the lieutenant restrain Henderson, he grabbed the bag and ran. After a brief foot chase, the officers caught up with Henderson and arrested him.

Tregre said Henderson was booked with possession of marijuana, possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine, possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and resisting an officer by violence. He was taken into custody Saturday, but has since bonded out of jail.

The arrest report said that while Henderson was being searched in the booking process, officers found three smaller bags of cocaine in his jacket pocket, eight marijuana cigarettes in his right shoe, and $698 in cash in his pockets.