Huge drug bust aided by special training

Published 12:20 pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

LAPLACE — An early Saturday morning traffic stop in LaPlace led to a huge drug seizure by a St. John Parish deputy who had just returned home from extensive drug-detection training.

On Saturday at 4:47 a.m., St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Cody Malkiewicz conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for improper lane use after he said he saw the car swerving and driving erratically on Interstate 10 east bound lanes near exit 209 in LaPlace.

The driver, his girlfriend and three juvenile children were in the vehicle. A computer check on the driver revealed the driver’s license was suspended.

While speaking with the driver, Malkiewicz smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and his K-9 Odeke alerted on the vehicle.

Narcotics detectives responded and obtained a judicial court-authorized search warrant for the vehicle. When the warrant was executed, detectives seized more than 120 pounds of marijuana and nearly $18,000 in cash.

Lt. Monty Adams said the recovered money was hidden in canisters of Kool-Aid and other grocery item canisters that had been fashioned to unscrew at the bottom to hide money. Adams said the canisters were placed inside of grocery bags, along with other legitimate groceries, so the couple could carry drugs and money to and from their car without being detected.

The driver of the vehicle, Adam M. Landry, 33, of 1015 McBeth Court in Slidell, was arrested and booked with three counts of illegal use of a controlled drug in the presence of persons under 17 years old, possession or distribution of drug paraphernalia, possession of 60- to 2,000-pounds marijuana and operating a vehicle with a suspended license.

He remains in custody in lieu of a $312,250 bond.

Authorities said the adult female in the vehicle is in custody in St. Tammany Parish.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said the three children in the vehicle were sitting on top of the huge packages of marijuana in the backseat. He said when the adults were arrested, he and his staff brought the children to Sheriff’s Office headquarters, where they ate a McDonald’s breakfast, colored and watched a movie until one of their aunts came and picked them up.

The investigation of the couple moved to their home in Slidell, where Tregre said St. Tammany Parish officers found 3.9 pounds of heroin and a small amount of marijuana.

The arresting officer in LaPlace, Malkiewicz, had returned to town from a specialized drug detection training in Meridian, Miss. just two days before he made the stop. He said the training was to better educate the attending officers from all over the region on how to better conduct patrols and better stop drug activity.

Malkiewicz said he “couldn’t have made the stop without the training.”