Deputy, Odeke sniff out $10K for SJSO

Published 11:45 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

LAPLACE — Specialized drug training by St. John the Parish deputies is paying for itself and leading to less illegal narcotics on the streets of South Louisiana.

Deputy Cody Malkiewicz recently returned from extensive drug-detection training in Meridian, Miss., and immediately used that training the help secure a bust that netted law enforcement 120 pounds of marijuana and nearly $18,000 in cash.

He said the training aimed to better educate officers on how to better conduct patrols, identify drug smugglers and stop drug activity.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said the Sheriff’s Office would receive 60 percent of the seized cash, which equals to $10,800. The District Attorney’s Office and parish criminal justice system will split the remaining 40 percent.

Tregre said he would use his office’s portion of money to continue to fund narcotics training for his officers.

“I want to give them the resources they need to do their job,” Tregre said. “We’re beefing up and ramping up resources.”

For his part, Malkiewicz said he “couldn’t have made the stop without the training.”

The early morning traffic bust took place at 4:47 a.m. July 12 when Malkiewicz conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for improper lane use after he saw the car swerving and driving erratically on I-10 east bound lanes near exit 209 in LaPlace.

The driver was traveling with a woman he referred to as his fiancée and three juvenile children.

A computer check on the driver revealed his driver’s license was suspended. While speaking with the driver, Malkiewicz smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Malkiewicz’s narcotics K-9 Odeke also alerted on the vehicle.

Narcotics detectives responded to the scene and obtained a judicial court-authorized search warrant for the vehicle, eventually seizing 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.

He said it is a practice narcotics investigators see often when working similar cases.

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.

Tregre said the three children were sitting on top of the huge packages of marijuana in the backseat. He said when the adults were arrested, he and staff members brought the children to Sheriff’s Office headquarters, where they ate a McDonald’s breakfast, colored and watched a movie until an aunt 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.