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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Operation Results in Federal Indictment Against 22 Defendants in Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Involving Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmates, Former Angola Guards, and Others

United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today the recent unsealing of a federal grand jury indictment charging twenty-two defendants in Operation Jellystone, an extensive federal, state, and local investigation aimed at dismantling a large-scale cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine trafficking network based in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, with suppliers in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, and Colton, California.

According to the indictment, which was filed under seal in July 2019 and recently unsealed by the Court, the defendants allegedly engaged in extensive drug trafficking with substantial amounts of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine being smuggled into Angola for distribution to dealers and users within Angola.  The charged defendants are listed below, and each faces significant terms of imprisonment, fines, and the forfeiture of proceeds from the illegal activity:

Arthur Basaldua, a/k/a/ “Yogi,” “Big Bro,” “Big Mex,” and “Mex,” age 41, an inmate at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; aiding and abetting unlawful travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise; and unlawful use of communication facilities.

Deanthony Ford, a/k/a D’Anthony Ford,” “D,” “Dee,” and “D Ant,” age 32, an inmate at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Nelson Tippen, age 39, an inmate at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Kevin Narcisse, age 34, an inmate at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; and unlawful use of communication facilities.

Dudley Melancon, a/k/a “Murder,” age 31, an inmate at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Joshua Gonzalez, a/k/a “Joshua Gonzales” and “Ro,” age 35, an inmate at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; and unlawful use of communication facilities.

Jared Graham, age 30, an inmate at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; and unlawful use of communication facilities.

Jeffery Day, a/k/a “JD,” “Ray,” and “Ray Ray,” age 34, a former correctional officer at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. 

Tommy Carter, Jr., a/k/a “TJ,” age 31, a former correctional officer at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

April Mathews, age 25, a former correctional officer at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Precious Shelvin, a/k/a “Precious Shelby,” age 33, a former correctional officer at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Tichina Williams, age 24, a former correctional officer at Angola, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Michael Augustine, age 39, of Erath, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and unlawful use of communication facilities.

Xavier Johnson, a/k/a “Ziggy” and “Zigg,” age 34, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; and possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.

Manuel Cadena, a/k/a “Joker,” age 38, of Colton, California, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Michael Cadena, a/k/a “Mikey,” age 29, of Hesperia, California, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Edgar Ochoa, a/k/a “Edgar Ochoa Contreras,” age 35, of Riverside, California, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Ismael Ochoa, a/k/a “Diablo” and “Ismael Contreras Ochoa,” age 32, of Riverside, California, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and unlawful travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise.

Quindale Smothers, age 23, of Lafayette, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Eryka Daniels, a/k/a “Mookie,” age 35, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

Adrienne Capizzo, age 32, of Westwego, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and unlawful use of communication facilities.

Evelyn Valdes, a/k/a “Eve,” age 42, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin stated, “This indictment disrupts a drug distribution conspiracy which brought significant amounts of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine into our district.  Those charged include inmates at Angola serving either life or other significant terms of imprisonment, former Angola guards, and drug suppliers from California.  We will continue our work with federal, state, and local law enforcement, throughout the country, to dismantle criminal networks, and bring offenders to justice in order to protect our citizens and promote respect for the law.  I want to thank our prosecutor, the FBI, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the West Feliciana Sheriff, and the Louisiana Department of Corrections who worked tirelessly, and in constant coordination, to advance the goal of eliminating opioids and other harmful drugs from our district.”

Larry Karl, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI New Orleans Field Office, stated, “The FBI, in coordination with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, executed numerous arrest warrants in Louisiana and California on charges related to a drug conspiracy at Angola Prison.  These arrests exemplify partnerships and cooperation across all agencies, especially from Angola Prison’s Investigations Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the Louisiana Department of Corrections. The FBI New Orleans Field Office will continue to aggressively investigate federal violations of malfeasance, corruption, and illegal activity within all of our correctional facilities.”

“This indictment should serve as a warning to street criminals and corrupt public servants that our nation’s mail system is not for trafficking contraband,” said Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Houston Division.  “Postal Inspectors are committed to safeguarding postal customers and Postal Service employees by working with our law enforcement partners to eliminate these prohibited substances from the U.S. Mail.”

West Feliciana Parish Sheriff J. Austin Daniel said, “We reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for assistance during the course of this investigation and greatly appreciate their help and cooperation between agencies.  Removing drugs and drug traffickers from our community is another way we protect and serve.  Thank you to all who put their time and immense effort into Operation Jellystone to keep our citizens safe.”

"We continue to crackdown and fight contraband in our prisons,” said Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc.  “We are appreciative of our partnership during this investigation with the U.S. Attorney, the FBI, and the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office, which resulted in the arrests and indictments of these individuals, particularly those who chose to betray the public’s trust.  This is not a reflection of the many hard working men and women in our Department who are dedicated to keeping our prisons and our public safe."  

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Louisiana Department of Corrections and West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office.  This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul L. Pugliese.

The investigation that led to this indictment 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. 

NOTE: An indictment is an accusation by a grand jury.  The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless adjudicated guilty at trial or through a guilty plea. 

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated August 6, 2019