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

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.

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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.