Tag: narcotics

Texas man sentenced to 20 years for possession, conspiracy to distribute 50 pounds of cocaine

A Jefferson Parish judge on Thursday (July 28) sentenced Miguel Angel Garcia Jr., to 20 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute 50 pounds of cocaine that federal and local authorities found concealed in modified vehicle gas tank.

Garcia, 44, of Laredo, Texas, was convicted as charged by a Jefferson Parish jury on June 14 of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. This charges stem from his arrest on March 3, 2016, outside a motel in the 2400 block of Clearview Parkway in Metairie.

Acting on a tip, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies surveilled the motel and observed Garcia and Misael Cardenas-Sanchez, with a pick-up truck and an attached trailer on which an inoperable Chevrolet Trailblazer was set.

The Trailblazer’s gasoline tank was modified to store the cocaine, according to evidence presented at trial. All told, the authorities recovered 20 bricks of cocaine

Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Garcia to 20 years for the possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and 15 years for the conspiracy offense. She ran the sentences concurrently.

Sanchez, now age 19, pleaded guilty to those same offenses on Jan. 25 and received a 15-year sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.

Texas man convicted of possessing, conspiracy to distribute 50 pounds of cocaine

A Jefferson Parish jury convicted a Texas man Thursday (June 14) of his role in a conspiracy to distribute more than 50 pounds of cocaine, which federal and local authorities seized while arresting him two years ago outside a Metairie motel.

Miguel Angel Garcia Jr., 44, of Laredo, was convicted as charged of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, which authorities believe was smuggled into the United States from Mexico. The cocaine had a wholesale value of more than $600,000 – with a street value of double or thrice that amount, according to trial evidence.

“This is more dope than any one of us could consume in a lifetime and survive,” Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese, who prosecuted Garcia with Jennifer Voss, told jurors in closing argument, pointing to the 20 bricks of cocaine displayed on a table in the courtroom.

Acting on a tip, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives on March 3, 2016 surveilled a motel in the 2400 block of Clearview Parkway, just off Interstate 10, according to evidence presented during the two-day trial.

The agents observed Garcia and Misael Cardenas-Sanchez, who was then 17, arrive in and then park a pick-up truck attached to a trailer, according to testimony. On the trailer was an inoperable Chevrolet Trailblazer whose gasoline tank was modified to store the cocaine, according to trial evidence.

Neither suspect claimed ownership of the cocaine upon their arrests. However, Sanchez, now 19, pleaded guilty as charged to possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine on Jan. 25. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Garcia continued to deny criminal involvement, saying he believed he was merely transporting a vehicle.

The jury deliberated less than two hours before reaching its verdict. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Garcia on June 28.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Jennifer Voss prosecuted the case.

Harvey man convicted of teen’s Woodmere murder

A Jefferson Parish jury decided Friday night (June 8) that Ivory Franklin II killed a teen as they walked along a Harvey drainage canal two years ago, firing a bullet into the back of the victim’s head before unleashing more bullets on the 15-year-old witness who ran through the murky water as he fled for his life.

Franklin, 20, of Harvey, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Reginald Black, 18, who died in the early morning hours of May 5, 2016. Franklin, who was 18 years old at the time of the crime, also was convicted of the attempted second-degree murder of the 15-year-old, who was Black’s nephew and was able to escape without physical injury.

Just before 3 a.m., on the day of the homicide, the three teens were walking on the concrete embankment of the canal behind homes on Windmere Court, just south of Post Street in Harvey’s Woodmere subdivision. Black walked ahead of Franklin and didn’t see his death coming, according to evidence presented during the trial. Armed with a revolver, Franklin fired a bullet into the back of Black’s head.

“He didn’t deserve to die at age 18,” Assistant District Attorney Andrew DeCoste, who prosecuted Franklin with Lynn Schiffman, told jurors. “He didn’t deserve to be killed by this man (Franklin), who he thought was his friend. He didn’t deserve to die on a canal bank.”

After seeing the uncle whom he considered a brother shot dead, the 15-year-old boy ran, plunging into the canal to make his escape and running to the first home he saw that had lights on. He banged on the front door, pleading with the resident inside for help.

The resident refused to open the door but called 911, according to trial testimony. The boy then ran to the first Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy to arrive and, crying, rushed the officer to Black’s body, according to testimony. The revolver Franklin used has not been recovered.

They found Black lying face-down on the sloped concrete surface, his blood flowing from his head down the embankment to the canal water. Deputies later discovered a strike mark in the concrete embankment, left from one of the bullets that Franklin fired at the 15-year-old as he ran away, according to trial evidence.

In testimony Friday, Franklin denied killing Black and pointed blame to the 15-year-old, whom he said was “hyper” after smoking marijuana and involved in horseplay with a pistol. Franklin said the boy pointed the pistol at his head, and when he swatted it away, it fired, leading to Black’s death.

The Jefferson Parish jury deliberated approximately two hours Friday before delivering its verdict.

Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Franklin to a mandatory life sentence in prison on Aug. 3.

Assistant District Attorneys Andrew DeCoste and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

With an apology, Harvey defendant pleads guilty to killing Shamarie Joseph

As jury selection was about to begin in his trial, an apologetic Romalis Levier pleaded guilty Tuesday (April 24) to inadvertently causing the death of a 15-year-old girl while he was shooting at a rival on a Harvey street.

Levier, 20, of Harvey, accepted the maximum 40-year prison sentence in pleading guilty to manslaughter for the Dec. 22, 2015, death of Shamarie Joseph. She was inside an apartment in the 1600 block of Apache Drive, holding a toddler, when a bullet Levier fired at a teenager on the street punched through a wall and struck her in the chest.

Shamarie’s mother gave tearful impact testimony, telling the court that her daughter was an athletic teen who aspired to be a gynecologist or pediatrician. She stood at the witness seat in the courtroom Tuesday and faced Levier as he sat nearby at the defense table. Levier stood and faced her.

“I forgive you,” she told Levier through her weeping. “I don’t hold no grudges in my heart. I forgive you, but I will never forget, because she is never coming back.”

Shamarie’s aunt also provided impact testimony, telling the court about her pain and reiterating that their family carries no grudges. “We just want to know why. Why? Why there?” she said of the shooting.

Levier later read a prepared statement, in which he offered his apologies to Shamarie’s mother. “I hope you forgive me,” he told Shamarie’s mother.

Seated in the audience by this point during the plea hearing, she responded, “I forgive you.”

Levier was involved in an ongoing dispute with another group of individuals when he opened fire on Emmett Garrison IV in retaliation for a Dec. 9, 2015, shooting in Marrero. Garrison, who since has been convicted of a slew of crimes, was struck by one of the bullets.

For that, Levier pleaded guilty as charged Tuesday to attempted second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Levier also pleaded guilty as charged to obstruction of justice, for which he received a 40-year sentence; conspiracy to obstruct justice, for which he received a 30-year sentence; and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of Tramadol, for which he was sentenced to 30 years and five years, respectively.

In accepting the plea, Judge Danyelle Taylor of the 24th Judicial District Court ran the sentences concurrently, for a total of 40 years.

Assistant District Attorneys Doug Freese and Blair Constant prosecuted the case.

 

Terrytown teen sentenced to life with parole in Westwego murder

A Terrytown teen was sentenced Wednesday (April 4) to life in prison with the benefit of parole eligibility for killing a 15-year-old boy in Westwego.

Chamid Davis, 19, committed the second-degree murder of Kevin Thomas Jr., on Oct. 19, 2015, a Jefferson Parish jury decided last month.

Davis, who was 16 years old at the time, lured Thomas out of his family’s apartment in the Tanglewood complex in the 1000 block of Sycamore Drive, under the guise of a marijuana transaction, according to evidence presented at trial.

Evidence showed Thomas was shot three times in his back as he ran back up to his apartment, where he died in his mother’s arms. According to prosecutors’ theory of the case, Thomas was targeted over a stolen gun.

With Thomas’ father standing by her side in court Wednesday, Thomas’ mother provided impact testimony, thanking the Westwego Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office. “You destroyed a whole family, not only ours, but yours,” she told Davis.

Because he was under age 18 at the time of the offense, Davis is eligible to seek parole after serving 25 years of his life sentence. After denying defense motions for a new trial and post-verdict judgment of acquittal, Judge Henry Sullivan of the 24th Judicial District Court announced the sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Matt Clauss and Lindsay Truhe prosecuted the case.

Terrytown many sentenced to life for Marrero murder that left child injured

A Terrytown man was sentenced Tuesday (Feb. 20) to a mandatory life sentence in prison for his involvement in a Marrero shooting that left a man dead and an 8-year-old girl injured.

Kendell Ellis, 29, was convicted by a Jefferson Parish jury on Feb. 2 of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Anderson “CJ” Massey, 29, was killed outside his apartment in the 1100 block of Dimarco Drive on Oct. 23, 2014, as he attempted to avoid being the victim of an armed robbery, according to testimony presented during the trial.

The child, meanwhile, was playing outside her cousin’s apartment when she was struck in the back by a bullet meant for Massey. The child survived, and surgeons left the bullet in her body, according to trial testimony.

In impact testimony Tuesday, Massey’s father told the court that closure is defined as resolution of conclusion, “but not when it comes to my family losing CJ to murder.” He further testified that “as much as I want to hate you for taking my son,” he could not hate Ellis.

“Hating you would not bring CJ back,” he testified. “It would only add stress to my life.”

After denying a defense motion for a new trial, 24th Judicial District Judge Henry Sullivan sentenced Ellis to life for the murder, 50 years for the attempted murder of the child and 49 1/2 years for the conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He ran the sentences concurrently.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

Terrytown man convicted in Marrero fatal shooting that injured a child

A Jefferson Parish jury on Friday (Feb. 2), returned a guilty verdict against Kendell Ellis, convicting him in the shooting death of a man during an armed robbery attempt on a Marrero street and of wounding of an 8-year-old girl who was playing outside her cousin’s home.

Ellis, 29, of Terrytown, was convicted as charged of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Anderson “CJ” Massey, 29, was fatally shot while in the 1100 block of Dimarco Drive on Oct. 3, 2014. The child, an innocent bystander, survived a bullet wound to her back, according to evidence presented during the trial this week.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office built a case against Ellis around DNA and cellphone call history and cell tower transmission data.

Ellis faces a mandatory life sentence in prison. Judge Henry Sullivan of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Ellis on Feb. 20.

Assistant District Attorneys Lynn Schiffman and Zachary Popovich prosecuted the case.

Metairie man nabbed in heroin distribution case convicted of narcotics, firearms offenses

A Metairie man who sold heroin to an undercover informant in New Orleans during a multi-jurisdictional investigation that led to Jefferson Parish was convicted Thursday night (Jan. 19) of possessing and distributing the illegal narcotic and of illegally possessing four firearms.

Julius Hankton, 27, is guilty of possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of oxycodone and four counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

A Jefferson Parish jury deliberated for 40 minutes before unanimously convicting him as charged of all counts. Judge Donnie Rowan of the 24th Judicial District Court set Hankton’s sentencing for Feb. 17.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation New Orleans Violent Crime Task Force investigated Hankton beginning in 2014, using an undercover informant to purchase small quantities of heroin on four occasions, according to testimony. The task force comprises members of the FBI and local law enforcement agencies, including the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana State Police.

Hankton, who lived in New Orleans when the investigation began, moved into an apartment with his girlfriend in the 1600 block of Clearview Parkway. As such, task force members obtained a warrant from a Jefferson Parish magistrate commissioner to search the apartment.

About 6 a.m., on March 19, 2015, FBI SWAT members and sheriff’s deputies served the warrant, surprising Hankton, his 4-year-old son and his girlfriend as they slept.

During the search agents found more than 21 grams of heroin, eight tablets of oxycodone and the firearms. They also seized more than $20,000 in cash.

The firearms included a fully loaded 9mm pistol with extended magazine, which was set on a dresser, a 10mm pistol on the floor next to his bed, a .45-caliber pistol found in the dresser drawer and a fully loaded AK-47 assault rifle in a duffle bag under the bed.

Hankton is barred from possessing firearms because of his prior convictions in New Orleans of aggravated battery, possession of cocaine, carrying a firearm while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance and illegal possession of stolen firearms.

Hankton, who did not testify, denied the crimes. His attorneys argued there was no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs and guns belonged to him.

Assistant District Attorneys Andrew DeCoste and Douglas Rushton prosecuted the case.

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New Orleans man convicted of marijuana distribution from Gretna hotel

A New Orleans East man was convicted as charged in Jefferson Parish Thursday night (Nov. 18) of possession with intent to distribute the 149 grams of marijuana he left behind in a Gretna motel room earlier this year.

Raymond Allen, 28, rented a room in the 100 block of the Westbank Expressway for one night on May 5, 2016. The following morning, he left the hotel to run errands, planning to return to his room before the 11 a.m. check-out time.

He was unable to make it back in time. A housekeeper who was cleaning the room discovered the marijuana and notified the hotel management, which in turn called the Gretna Police Department.

Allen returned to the hotel about 12:30 p.m., that day, planning to ask the manager if he could obtain his belongings. Instead, he was greeted by police officers who were investigating the marijuana.

“Y’all are here because of the weed in my room,” Allen told the officers, admitting later that he was in the process of selling marijuana to help himself financially. Officers also found more than $900 in cash in his pocket during the arrest.

The officers found five sandwich bags stuffed with marijuana in a plastic grocery bag that was set atop the room’s dresser. The officers also found paraphernalia associated with marijuana distribution.

Testifying during the daylong trial on Thursday, Allen denied the charges, saying he purchased the marijuana in bulk to save money, and that he bought it only for personal use. He said he lived with his mother in eastern New Orleans at the time and so he rented the Gretna motel room to have private time with his girlfriend and not as a location from which he would sell marijuana.

A 12-member Jefferson Parish jury deliberated about 40 minutes before returning with its verdict just before 10 p.m. Allen faces a punishment of five years to 30 years in prison, with the benefit of probation, parole or suspended sentence.

Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Allen on Dec. 1. It is within the judge’s discretion to suspend the imposition of the sentence and place the subject on probation.

Assistant District Attorneys Michael Smith and Angel Manzanares prosecuted the case.

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Bentel brothers sentenced to prison in synthetic narcotics distribution ring

A pair of brothers who ran parallel but separate drug distribution operations, including the largest synthetic narcotics distribution ring in Jefferson Parish that controlled all synthetic marijuana sales in East Jefferson for a period of time, began lengthy prison sentences on Monday (Oct. 3).

Henry Bentel, 35, of Metairie, was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Ronald Bentel, 36, of Folsom, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The crimes to which they pleaded guilty last month originate from their actions during a 2 ½-year period ending in July 2012. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office opened investigations into the Bentels, and into an unrelated synthetic narcotics operation based on the West Bank, after receiving reports that several people overdosed from ingesting the substances the Bentel organization and others manufactured and distributed.

The synthetic narcotics were sold in more than 90 locations in Jefferson Parish when the Sheriff’s Office investigation began, including The Rob Shop, a business belonging to the Bentels. Investigators seized more than $800,000 in cash from the Bentel organization upon arresting various suspects. Today, there are no such locations selling the products.

They were part of a criminal enterprise that imported chemicals from Canada and China to manufacture synthetic marijuana they named POW, which they sold through The Rob Shop and other retail outlets in Jefferson Parish.

Members of the enterprise manufactured the illegal substances in houses they rented in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. At the peak of their operation, the members manufactured about 300 pounds of their product every week. They sold POW for $10 per gram, or $20 for three grams.

Henry Bentel pleaded guilty on Sept. 12 to conspiracy to distribute controlled dangerous substances, three counts of distribution of cyclpropanoylindoles, one count of possession with intent to distribute cathinones, possession with intent to distribute naphtholyindoles, obstruction of justice and cruelty to juveniles. The cruelty charge stems from his allowing a juvenile to be present while he distributed a controlled dangerous substance.

Ronald Bentel pleaded guilty on Sept. 26, to racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering over $20,000 and conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance.

Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court accepted the guilty pleas and handed down the sentences.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese prosecuted the cases.

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