Local man pleads to crack dealing; federal partnerships, community tips feed enforcement

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, February 7, 2018

RESERVE — The U.S. Justice Department contends on May 18, 2016, Michael Sanders called Garrick Jones, initiating the sale of “a jumbo dime” of crack cocaine.

Sanders wanted Jones to sell him the drugs so Sanders could turn around and sell the illegal narcotics to a local drug user.

Authorities intercepted and recorded the mid-afternoon phone call, according to the Justice Department, as part of a multi-month investigation spearheaded by the St. John Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

In all, five Reserve men were named in a nine-count 2016 indictment detailing a crack sales network that operated through violence and witness intimidation.

On Friday, U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced Sanders, 36, pleaded guilty to narcotics trafficking charges. Evans said court documents spell out Sanders’ role in the crack distribution conspiracy.

Judge Jane Triche Milazzo set Sanders’ sentencing for May 3. He faces 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and supervised release following imprisonment.

According to a factual basis of the case, prosecutors and Sanders agree the defendant sold crack on three occasions from Jan. 4 to March 1, 2016, to a law enforcement source and three audio recordings from Feb. 17 to March 10, 2016, show Sanders arranging those drug transactions.

Wiretap intercepts and text messages also outline the drug-dealing network.

The 2016 indictment implicated Troy Kendrick Jr., Travis Carter, Reshad Frank, Jones and Sanders.

“You can call them a team, you can call them a gang, but they all know each other and are involved in this operation that we are still looking into,” Sheriff Mike Tregre said at the time of the indictment.

Tregre said local authorities reached out to their federal partners because more resources were needed, resulting in additional manpower, monitoring equipment and air bound surveillance.

Tregre said the investigation “probably saved a life” and resulted in removing illegal guns off St. John the Baptist Parish streets.

According to the indictment, Kendrick, Jones, Carter, Sanders and Frank conspired to distribute crack.

Jones and Carter were also charged with retaliating against a witness for information provided to law enforcement.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Jones, Frank and Carter previously pleaded guilty. Kendrick is still awaiting trial.


According to Tregre, partnerships between the community members (tipsters, confidential sources) and federal agency liaisons offer local authorities their best weapons in fighting the drug trade and making St. John Parish safer.

“Federal agencies use some of the best technology as far as cell phones,” Tregre said. “They call it cell phone investigation forensics. When we get a phone, whether it belongs to a victim or suspect, a good bit of the time the information we obtain leads to solvability. It’s changed the game dramatically.

“We are going to continue, but it is not just technology. It’s citizens working with us to give us those tips.”

Crime statistics for 2017 recently released by the Sheriff’s Office show total crimes reported dropped from 2016 to 2017, going from 1,262 to 1,051. Burglaries (93 to 46) and assaults (141 to 98) showed the most dramatic reductions, according to Sheriff’s Office numbers.

Tregre said crime and recognition cameras in strategic locations throughout the parish record the license plates of every vehicle that passes through an intersection and are a “gigantic crime-fighting tool.”

With six officers assigned to partnerships with six different federal agencies, Tregre said his office is in the best position to utilize the strengths of other agencies.


“Trust is hard to get but easy to lose,” Tregre said. “You have to get the trust of the citizens to believe that they are helping us. When they give us a tip and we act on it, it circulates and grows.

“My officers have got the message and they are out there making people see that we need your help. We want your help, and if you help us, we are going to all win. I send my officers to every homeowners association, PTO meeting, civic association and honor roll roundup.”

That connection is being pulled on more than ever as two early 2018 homicides have deputies asking for help.

Tregre announced a $5,000 reward last week for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the suspect or suspects responsible for the shooting death of Colay McCovery, 18, of Reserve. He was pronounced dead Jan. 27, found killed in a ditch, the victim of gun violence.

Appealing to our community’s many close families, authorities recently released a picture of Tameka Robinson’s children in asking for tips.

Robinson was found dead in the road Jan. 15 near Louisiana 628 and Cardinal Street in LaPlace.

Anyone with information regarding these killings can call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111. Crimestoppers callers do not have to testify in court.

Tregre said he welcomes all communication, good or bad.

“If you have something negative — not rumors — that we need to correct, I use it,” he said. “You can inbox me, text me or message me. I plan on keeping the same cell phone number as long as I am sheriff. My biggest thing is how do we sustain it. We can’t do it alone. My guys realize that and I think the citizens are starting to realize that. The numbers do not lie.”