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Thursday, September 18, 2014
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A more than 18-month investigation by the Combined Anti-Drug Task Force that led to the arrests of 18 people last week has dealt a serious blow to the flow of illegal drugs into west Calcasieu Parish. (Rick Hickman / American Press)<br>

A more than 18-month investigation by the Combined Anti-Drug Task Force that led to the arrests of 18 people last week has dealt a serious blow to the flow of illegal drugs into west Calcasieu Parish. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Editorial: Operation Havana Speed deals blow to flow of drugs into west Calcasieu

Last Modified: Saturday, July 13, 2013 8:18 PM

A more than 18-month investigation by the Combined Anti-Drug Task Force that led to the arrests of 18 people last week has dealt a serious blow to the flow of illegal drugs into west Calcasieu Parish.

Ranking officials and in-the-trenches officers, deputies and troopers from the Lake Charles and Vinton police departments, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, State Police and Office of Homeland Security saw their tenacious and sometimes dangerous work culminate in the arrests over a three-day period last week. More than 120 officers participated in the round-up of the suspects in Louisiana and Texas.

Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon said the investigation found that ‘‘lab-quality’’ crystal methamphetamine was being delivered into the Vinton-Starks area from Texas.

Law enforcement personnel used undercover buys and surveillance to make their cases.

‘‘We did not just want to do the little local buys,’’ Dixon said. ‘‘We wanted to find out where these drugs were coming from, and we wanted to smash the distribution rings.’’

Dixon said the ring leaders include Mario Barrazacorral, Sergio Reyes Castillo and Lazaro Perez Cribeiro. The latter two are being held in the Calcasieu Correctional Center.

Charges on the 18 arrested ranged from attempt and conspiracy, drug possession with intent to distribute, illegal possession of a weapon during commission of a crime or in the presence of drugs, introduction of contraband into a penal institution and running of a clandestine lab.

It was also found that several of the people charged were in the United States illegally.

The body of one of the subjects of the investigation, Jose Guadaloupe Perez Campos, was fished from the Neches River in Texas in May and local officials are looking into where Campos may have been the victim of a homicide.

The drug investigation also led to the seizure of large amounts of steroids used on horses. That information has been given to the Louisiana State Racing Commission, presumably to look into the possibility of steroids being used on race horses at Delta Downs.

Last year, two quarterhorse trainers were suspended by the Louisiana State Racing Commission after stewards at Delta Downs suspended them for using the pain-killing drug dermorphin on horses. The stewards also disqualified the horses that tested positive and ordered purses won in the questioned races to be redistributed.

We expect a thorough investigation by the Racing Commission to ensure that all races at Delta Downs are on the up-and-up and horses are not being abused.

As for the suspects in the ‘‘Operation Havana Speed’’ case, they’ll have their day in court. If convicted, those who are in this country illegally should not only face prison time, but also automatic deportation once they’ve completed their sentence.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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