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Press Release

One Defendant Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison, Another Pleads Guilty in Heroin Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that MELVIN SMITH, age 30, of New Orleans, was sentenced today after previously pleading guilty to an Indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.  Additionally, co-defendant THEODORE GRIFFIN, age 61, of New Orleans, pled guilty today to the same charge.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt sentenced SMITH to 120 months in prison, five years of supervised release following his prison term, and a $100 special assessment.   Judge Engelhardt set GRIFFIN’s sentencing for December 9, 2015.  The trial on the remaining defendant is currently scheduled for September 28, 2015.

According to court documents, the investigation of this trafficking organization included multiple court-authorized wiretaps by the Drug Enforcement Administration New Orleans Police Department High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area group, including taps of cell phones used by dealers to communicate with suppliers, other co-conspirators, and customers.  DEA worked together with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation 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 the defendants had been using GRIFFIN’s 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 one of the dealers 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.

According to the record, in July 2013, a court-authorized wiretap of the ‘dope’ phone used by defendant TERENCE TAYLOR intercepted a series of calls relating to the sale of heroin to a person who had recently been through treatment for heroin addiction, and who died later that day as a result of a heroin overdose.  Intercepted calls helped to demonstrate that TAYLOR negotiated this particular sale of heroin and that defendant MALCOLM BOLDEN subsequently met with the decedent to complete the sale.  Judge Engelhardt sentenced BOLDEN to 25 years in prison in June.  

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, with the assistance of the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office, the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office, and the Louisiana State Police in investigating this matter.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael B. Redmann and Mark A. Miller are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated September 2, 2015

Drug Trafficking