Cocaine cartel cracked
Massive drug bust long, ongoing operation
Law enforcement officers across all of north Louisiana described it as the largest, most well organized and complex drug operation they have ever seen — and it all originated out of Ruston, they said.
Top law enforcement officials from across north Louisiana gathered in Ruston Tuesday to announce the results of what they said was the largest drug bust of their careers. Some of the people allegedly involved with the drug operation were arrested last spring. Law enforcement officers, including Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone and Ruston Police Chief Steve Rogers, said Tuesday, however, that they had to keep many of those details secret from the public at the time.
“We still can’t give out too many details, but I can tell you that this (organization) was the largest single source of cocaine in north central Louisiana,” Stone said.
“In all my years of law enforcement, I’ve never seen anything this complex.”
Officers believe that the Ruston-based organization is responsible for distributing cocaine across most of north Louisiana, between Monroe and Shreveport, and even into south Arkansas, Stone said.
The organization doesn’t have a name, he said.
The investigation included officials from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies across north Louisiana.
As a result of the arrests and indictments, there are at least 100 people of interest in north Louisiana that law enforcement officers want to talk to now, Stone said.
The organization was responsible for distributing hundreds of kilos of cocaine every year, which is a substantial amount, he said.
As of this time, the investigation has resulted in 27 federal indictments and 10 guilty pleas. This investigation continues at both the state and federal level, Stone said.
The arrests and indictments will make north Louisiana a safer place, said Lincoln Parish District Attorney Bob Levy.
“It’s embarrassing to believe that we could be the hub of the wheel of the distribution of cocaine, but it’s gratifying to know that that hub has been broken, at least for the time being,” Levy said.
Interceptions lead to arrests
Law enforcement officials knew of the organization as early as April 2008, but developed their first promising lead earlier this year.
That’s when they intercepted someone in the organization allegedly trying to ship cocaine from Houston to Ruston, Stone said.
Federal agents wouldn’t say how, but they learned of a meeting in Jasper, Texas, between the main supplier of the cocaine and the head of the distribution cell in Ruston. Law enforcement officials were also able to observe that meeting, but they wouldn’t say how, said John Slagle, the resident agent in charge of the Shreveport Drug Enforcement Administration.
After the meeting, law enforcement agents stopped Rodney Barnes, of Houston, and seized $113,070 from him.
DEA agents described Barnes as the transporter of the cocaine, and not the source of it.
“We watched them meet. We saw where the money went and we stopped that truck in Texas and took $113,000,” Slagle said.
A short time later agents stopped a vehicle in Natchitoches and seized four and a half kilograms of cocaine from Kevin Goldsmith and James Earl Jones, both of Ruston.
In May 2009, agents executed a series of federal search warrants in Lincoln and Ouachita parishes resulting in the arrest of Derwin Lewis and Amecia Lewis on state charges, the details of which Stone said were too sensitive to release to the public at the time.
Also in May, a federal grant jury indicted Thaophilius Goins, Goldsmith, Rodney Earl Barnes and Dale House (who is now a fugitive believed to be in the Houston area) for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilos of cocaine or more.
In July, a federal grand jury indicted Derwin Lewis, Malcolm Gillis, Marcus Sneed, Trent Ivory, Julius Walker, Johnny Reed, Johnny Harper, James Coleman and Trent Sampson for conspiracy to distribute cocaine in the Western District of Louisiana.
In August Derwin Lewis issued a guilty plea to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine.
In September Goldsmith, Walker and Reed issued guilty pleas to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine.
Coleman pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine.
In October, Johnny Harper issued a guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine.
Last week, a federal grand jury returned indictments against the following people related to the investigation:
• Herbert Goldsmith, Houston
• Shedrick “Shed” Green III, Ruston
• Dwight Darrell Jackson, Ruston
• Brian Shantell Moss, Ruston
• Carlos Broshaun Moore, Ruston
• Michael F. Moore, Monroe
• Michael Charles Williams, Ruston
• Jontavious A. Slaton, Ruston
• James T. Harrison, Ruston
In addition to Lincoln Parish authorities and the DEA, the agencies involved in the investigation included the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Shreveport Police Department, the Louisiana State Police, the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office, Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office, Monroe Police Department and the West Monroe Police Department.
The case is now being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Office, Stone said.
Chris Butler, Reporter