Eleven Plead Guilty in Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy; Two Plead Guilty to Distribution Resulting in Death
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that TERENCE TAYLOR, age 36; ARTHUR MCKINNIS, age 24; NOEL JONES, age 27; TERRELL DYER, age 30; PERCY DEPRON, age 28; ERNEST DIAZ, age 25; MALCOLM BOLDEN, age 20; TERRELL DAVIS, age 24; and MELVIN SMITH, age 30, all pled guilty today to an Indictment for conspiring to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin in the New Orleans area. TAYLOR and BOLDEN also pled guilty to distribution of heroin resulting in an overdose death. Two additional defendants, NARCISSE TROTTER, age 43, and AARONISHA LEWIS, age 26, also pled guilty to charges of using telephones in furtherance of the conspiracy.
According to court documents, the investigation of this trafficking organization included multiple court-authorized wiretaps by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New Orleans Police Department High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area group, including taps of cell phones used by TAYLOR and MCKINNIS to communicate with suppliers, other co-conspirators, and customers. DEA worked together with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct numerous undercover purchases of heroin, surveillance operations, searches, witness debriefings, records analyses, and other investigative techniques to uncover and dismantle the heroin trafficking activities of the group.
The investigation showed that TAYLOR and others had been using a residence in New Orleans East as a base of operations to meet with heroin suppliers, maintain a heroin stash, and provide heroin to other dealers.
Numerous daily heroin customers also called the ‘dope’ phones used by these defendants every day to order heroin. Typically, TAYLOR or another dealer would answer these calls, ask the caller how much heroin he or she wanted to buy, and direct the caller to drive to a gas station or other commercial location in the New Orleans East neighborhood. Through subsequent calls and then visual contact between the customer and dealer, the dealer would direct the customer to rendezvous in a parking lot or on a side street near the commercial location to conduct the heroin sale.
U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt scheduled sentencing for June 24, 2015, as to all eleven defendants. TAYLOR and BOLDEN will face a sentence of twenty years to life in connection with the overdose death and a sentence of ten years to life regarding the conspiracy. MCKINNIS, JONES, DYER, DEPRON, DIAZ, DAVIS, and SMITH each face a sentence of ten years to life for their roles in the heroin conspiracy. TROTTER’s and LEWIS’s charges carry a sentence of up to four years per count. Trial as to the remaining defendant, THEODORE GRIFFIN, is scheduled for May 4, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the DEA New Orleans Police Department High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area group, the FBI, and the ATF in investigating this matter with the assistance of the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office, the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office, and the Louisiana State Police. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael B. Redmann and Mark A. Miller are in charge of the prosecution.