Arrests made from undercover operation
Over 40 law enforcement officers from seven different agencies participated in the arrest of 22 individuals for distribution of illegal drugs early last Wednesday morning in LaSalle Parish.
The massive roundup was dubbed “Operation Deaf Ear” in response to LaSalle Sheriff Scott Franklin’s repeated message to drug dealers: “Quit, Move, or Go To Jail!”
“Apparently, my warnings have fallen on ‘deaf ears,’” the sheriff said. “Since I’ve been in office I’ve continually warned drug dealers that if they didn’t quit or move that we would put them in jail. My narcotics section and road deputies are always making drug arrests, but apparently it takes roundups such as this one to really get their attention.”
Officers met at 5 AM October 18 for a briefing at a designated staging area and to get assignments for the morning operation. LPSO Detective Brant King organized and led the operation that saw 20 of the 22 individuals on the warrant list arrested within two hours.
The final two arrests were made by mid-morning giving the department a 100 percent arrest total…something that doesn’t happen very often with law enforcement roundups.
“I just can’t say enough about the officers involved in this and the professional manner in which they conducted these arrest warrants,” King said. “We are so appreciative to our fellow law enforcement agencies who assisted us with this operation.”
King said that during all of the early morning arrests there were no reports of injuries or incidents of resisting by those arrested.
“It was a great morning in that everything went smoothly, no issues or problems, and all of the 22 people on our warrant list were apprehended,” King said.
The roundup of the 22 individuals was the culmination of a several month undercover operation by the LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Department, which targeted individuals that allegedly were selling illegal narcotics in the form of cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana.
“The focus of this undercover operation was those people in our parish who were distributors – the drug sellers,” Franklin said. “Our office consistently makes arrests of people who have possession of illegal narcotics but we are also constantly making cases to get to the dealers.”
He explained that to make those distribution cases solid and to stick in court, much time is needed to build those cases and make sure the evidence is undeniable to a judge or jury.
“Our narcotics section does a great job of making sure everything is done legally in accordance to current laws and policies,” the sheriff said. “It takes time, much effort, and hard work, but each year I’m proud of the way our men and women do their job. From our road deputies to our detectives, LaSalle Parish can be proud of the men and women who serve them.”
The sheriff said the large arresting event last Wednesday was coordinated to have the element of surprise on the law officer’s side.
After their group meeting early that morning officers pulled out in teams headed to various locations throughout LaSalle Parish.
“The goal was to strike as many residences as possible at the same time,” Sheriff Franklin said. “In our parish, once the first arrest is made word spreads pretty quick through the criminal realm that we are doing some kind of activity and with that warning people go into hiding or go on the run.”
Officers left the staging area by 5:20 AM and less than five minutes later teams began making arrests almost simultaneously.
The large majority of those arrested were still in bed asleep when officers arrived. In at least one location, two of the people on the warrant list were located in the same residence in the same bed.
In at least one location, a person attempted to evade arrest, assisted briefly by a parent, but soon gave up when they discovered the arrest team at their house was a team of specially trained U.S. Marshals who were part of their Task Force designed just for criminal apprehension.
“No shots were fired, no resistance occurred from those being arrested, and all of the officers were able to go home safely to their families later that day,” Franklin noted. “In the same respect, all of those arrested were treated fairly and were transported to jail without any injuries. It was a good day.”
The sheriff issued a special thanks to the various law enforcement agencies that participated. They included: Jena Police Department, Louisiana State Police, U.S. Marshal’s Task Force, FBI Task Force, Louisiana Department of Probation and Parole, and the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Department.
“Since I have been in office, we have had several of these roundups and we are currently working on another one real soon,” Franklin said. “If we have to stay awake at night trying to figure out how to outsmart the drug dealers then I want them to stay awake worrying if they are next on our list.”