Five Remaining Defendants in OCDETF Operation Sentenced in Federal Court

Published 7:37 am Friday, August 19, 2022

SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced that five defendants who were indicted as a result of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) “Operation Lost and Found” have been sentenced by United States District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote for their involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Timothy Ryan Melton, 31, of Shreveport, Louisiana, was sentenced to 151 months (12 years, 7 months) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Billy Bryan Feroben, 33, of Cabot, Arkansas, was sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Brent Demonde Smith, Jr., 36, of Shreveport, Louisiana, was sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Serina Khan, 24, of Shreveport, was sentenced to 120 months (10 years) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Khan pleaded guilty March 4, 2022 to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Robert J. Merritt, 39, of Dallas, Texas, was sentenced to 151 months (12 years, 7 months) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

In July 2020, agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began an investigation into drug trafficking activities in the Cedar Grove area after receiving information that their co-defendant, Demetrius Loston, was distributing large amounts of methamphetamine in the Shreveport area. This OCDETF investigation resulted in federal indictments against nine defendants for conspiring together to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

During their investigation, agents were able to intercept multiple phone calls between Loston, Merritt, Smith and Khan, wherein they communicated at different times about buying and selling methamphetamine. Law enforcement agents conducted surveillance and observed both Smith and Khan meet Loston on more than one occasion at a pre-determined location and either pick up, drop off, or exchange methamphetamine for money.

Law enforcement agents were able to establish that Merritt was a source of supply of methamphetamine through the interception of phone calls. Agents monitored a meeting between Merritt and Loston and obtained video surveillance from Loston’s residence showing Merritt walking a shoe box from his vehicle into the carport of the residence. This evidence was consistent with the intercepted phone calls between the two defendants. Merritt was arrested shortly after that meeting.

Billy Bryan Feroben was also involved in the purchase of methamphetamine from Loston and would then sell and distribute to others for profit. A search warrant was executed at a residence in Shreveport in August 2020 and agents made contact with Feroben at that time. In the trunk of his car, agents found over 200 gross grams of methamphetamine and firearms. Feroben admitted to agents that he would meet Loston at a gas station to purchase the methamphetamine for distribution.

On August 24, 2020, Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation.  The deputy approached the vehicle and the driver, Timothy Ryan Melton, could only provide an identification card. Deputies asked Melton to exit the vehicle and conducted a pat down search and were given permission to search the vehicle. Deputies seized a large amount of cash and methamphetamine from the center console. The methamphetamine was packaged for street level distribution. Melton admitted that the drugs were his and that he had been working with Loston to purchase the methamphetamine for distribution to others for profit.

The investigation was conducted by the DEA, ATF, Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office and Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Aaron Crawford.

This effort is part of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.