Defendants Sentenced to Federal Prison in Operation Dirty Bird Targeting Heroin Trafficking Organization
United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today that two additional individuals have been sentenced to federal prison following their convictions in Operation Dirty Bird, an extensive federal, state, and local investigation aimed at dismantling a large scale heroin trafficking network based in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, and Houston, Texas. The indictment charged individuals with significant drug trafficking, racketeering, firearm, and conspiracy charges. To date, investigative efforts have resulted in the seizure of over one and a half kilograms of heroin, substantial amounts of methamphetamine, crack cocaine, and oxycodone. As a result of this operation, authorities have also seized seven firearms, over $314,000 in drug proceeds, and three vehicles allegedly used in the drug trafficking venture: a 2013 Porsche 911, a Mercedes CLS550, and a GMC Hummer. To date, 11 defendants have been sentenced, two defendants are pending sentencing, and two defendants are awaiting trial.
U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles sentenced JABLONSKI HANKTON a/k/a “Blossy,” “Blasky,” and “Blosky,” age 37, of Gonzales, Louisiana, to 95 months in federal prison following his convictions for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute heroin and unlawful use of a communications facility. The Court also sentenced HANKTON to 4 years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.
According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, HANKTON bought heroin from Jason Muse to sell to others in and around Ascension Parish. Furthermore, HANKTON used a telephone on numerous occasions to discuss the distribution of heroin with Jason Muse.
DENMOND SMITH, age 39, of St. James, Louisiana was charged by indictment in the Middle District of Louisiana for conspiracy to distribute heroin, and unlawful use of communication facilities. SMITH was also charged by indictment in the Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Division for conspiracy to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine and distribution of five grams or more of methamphetamine. SMITH was sentenced in both matters by U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles to 120 months in federal prison in each case, to run concurrently. The Court also sentenced SMITH to 5 years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.
According to admissions made as part of his guilty pleas, SMITH admitted to buying heroin from Jason Muse to sell to others in and around Ascension Parish and traveling to McComb, Mississippi, from Louisiana with an accomplice for the purpose of purchasing methamphetamine.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “The success of this operation demonstrates what federal authorities, working across state boundaries and alongside our state and local partners can accomplish. We will continue to use all available resources to stop the flow of these deadly drugs to our streets. The people of this District, and in this case the people of Ascension Parish, deserve nothing less. I want to thank our prosecutors and our federal, state, and local partners for their efforts.”
“Federal and local law enforcement has successfully collaborated in order to put these drug dealers in jail as a result of their desire to supply the citizens in the greater Baton Rouge area with heroin and methamphetamine, said DEA Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Arnett. “DEA will remain relentless in our efforts to cripple these dealers and remove them from our neighborhoods, keeping our communities safe.”
This operation is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Baton Rouge City Police Department, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police, and the Gonzales Police Department. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Kleinpeter, who also serves as a deputy criminal chief.
The investigation is another effort by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program that was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers. Today, the OCDETF Program is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General’s drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises. The OCDETF Program operates nationwide and combines the resources and unique expertise of numerous federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated attack against major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.