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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana

Thursday, October 9, 2014

East Hollygrove Neighborhood Gang Member, Avian Brule, Sentenced On Federal Drug And Firearms Violations

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that AVIAN BRULE, a/k/a “Ave,” 21, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, was sentenced yesterday after having pled guilty to federal drug and firearm violations. Judge Ivan L.M. Lemelle sentenced BRULE, a first-time offender, to serve 50 months in federal prison and ordered him to serve 3 years of supervised release once he is released from prison.  

BRULE was one of seven defendants charged with conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine base in the East Hollygrove neighborhood.  In addition, all seven defendants were charged with conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of their drug trafficking crimes, and several of them were charged with committing substantive acts of violence. 

To date, all of the gang members in this case, except for CHARLES JOHNSON, a/k/a “Chuck,” 25, have pled guilty to various charges.  JOHNSON is scheduled for trial on December 8, 2014.  The following co-defendants are currently pending separate sentencing hearings over the next two months:   ROBERT JOHNSON, a/k/a “Skinny,” 24; THOMAS HENDERSON, a/k/a “T,” 24; LAVELL STOVAL, a/k/a “Vell,” 21; WILLIAM HENDERSON, a/k/a “Will,” 20; and, ERSKINE WATERS, 22.

According to court documents and evidence presented at BRULE’s sentencing, federal agents seized a cellular phone from co-defendant WILLIAM HENDERSON.  After obtaining a search warrant for the phone, agents found a video, recorded on November 5, 2012, that WILLIAM HENDERSON took of himself and BRULE conducting a heroin sale in a car with a known third party. (See attached video)  In the video BRULE and HENDERSON are seen negotiating a heroin deal while a four-year-old child was sitting in the backseat of the car.   Additional pictures retrieved from HENDERSON’s phone show the same child holding a semi-automatic handgun in the backseat of the same vehicle.  (See attached photographs)

U.S. Attorney Polite stated, “Even as a first-time offender, Avian Brule deserved the
lengthy jail sentence imposed here.  He and his East Hollygrove gang members terrorized their own neighborhood through narcotics trafficking and violence.  Even worse, Brule and his fellow defendants exposed a four-year-old boy to their criminal conduct.  Being exposed to guns and drugs certainly placed this boy at risk of physical harm.  At the same time, it jeopardizes his future, as the misguided lesson learned by him –and other young people in the same predicament – is that this conduct is acceptable, normal, and even encouraged.  It certainly is not.  We must use all available tools – prevention, intervention and enforcement – to break this cycle of criminality.”

U.S. Polite praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigations as part of the MAG Unit in investigating this matter.  Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and Assistant United States Maurice E. Landrieu, Jr. is in charge of this prosecution.

Updated November 18, 2014