Baton Rouge, LA (KPEL News) - A group of 13 men, including nine from Louisiana, is headed to federal prison for their involvement in a massive drug trafficking ring to move product to and through Angola State Penitentiary. U.S. Attorney Ronald Gauthe, Jr, of the Middle District of Louisiana, made the announcement, saying the effort was:

aimed at a large-scale cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine trafficking network based in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola....

In a case that sounds like a movie, the defendants worked together over a two year period to obtain and distribute drugs in the prison and elsewhere using corrections officers and people who weren't incarcerated.

Adding another layer to the federal crimes, the defendants were shipping the drugs from California to addresses in Baton Rouge. The goal of the conspiracy was for profit through the distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine between February 2017 and May 2019.

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The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force involved a slew of local, state and federal agencies led by the FBI and the United States Postal Service Inspection Service and included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Louisiana Department of Corrections, the Louisiana State Police, and the St. Francisville Police Department.

U.S. Chief Judge Shelly Dick in Baton Rouge handed down sentences that range from four years to 16 years, with supervised release after they serve their time in prison.

One of the men, 44-year-old Michael Augustine, was a resident of Erath. He will serve 51 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release.

Augustine and the following 12 men admitted to participating in the Angola-centered ring:

  • Arthur Basaldua, age 44, of Angola, Louisiana
  • Manuel Cadena, age 44, of Hesperia, California
  • Michael Cadena, age 33, of Hesperia, California
  • Jeffery Day, age 38, of Centreville, Mississippi
  • Deanthony Ford, age 37, of Angola, Louisiana
  • Joshua Gonzalez, age 40, of Angola, Louisiana
  • Jared Graham, age 34, of Angola, Louisiana
  • Xavier Johnson, age 39, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Dudley Melancon, age 35, of Angola, Louisiana
  • Ismael Ochoa, age 37, of Riverside, California
  • Kevin Narcisse, age 38, of Angola, Louisiana
  • Nelson Tippen, age 44, of Angola, Louisiana

The case was prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney April Leon Johnson and Assistant United States Attorney Paul L. Pugliese.

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Gallery Credit: Cindy Campbell


Gallery Credit: Getty Images