Drug charges in Lake Charles crack down on crystal meth ring

It seems that elements of the horse racing business have become active players in the importation of lab quality methamphetamine into the state. Officials in Lake Charles and the Louisiana parish of Calcasieu announced that 18 persons were arrested on drug charges as part of a year-and-a-half-long investigation of methamphetamine activities. They were allegedly part of a network of people funneling lab quality crystal meth into the Lake Charles area. In a newsworthy twist, several of the people arrested were jockeys, owners, or trainers in the horse racing industry.

The Lake Charles Police Chief said that 11 search warrants netted "pounds" of crystal meth, several weapons and three active meth labs. Authorities would not say whether any of the suspects were employed by Delta Downs, but the indicated that no officials at the racetrack were targets of the investigation. The seizure, however, did result in the recovery of 'assets' from the horse-racing industry and large amounts of steroids used on horses, which were turned over to the Louisiana Racing Commission.

The usual representation from local, state and federal agencies participated in the press conference and announcements. Suspected leaders of the drug operations were being held in Texas as well as Louisiana. There were numerous undercover buys and many hours of surveillance, including aerial surveillance. The investigation revealed that lab-quality crystal meth was transported from Texas to the Vinton-Starks area of west Calcasieu Parish, according to the Lake Charles Police Chief.

The Chief also noted the rise of crystal meth in the area, and that it has possibly surpassed cocaine as the most prevalent drug in Southwest Louisiana in the past few years. The specifics of the drug charges were not available from initial press reports. In addition to charges for possession and possession with intent to distribute, charges normally include drug trafficking. The manufacture of drugs is also a common charge in meth cases. In this arrest, where a common thread of action is described, there could likely also be drug conspiracy charges.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "Lake Charles drug sting leads to 18 arrests, 'pounds' of crystal meth linked to horse racing," July 13, 2013

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