“They’re basically treating these buildings like crime scenes.”
Tangipahoa Parish, LA — A massive raid was carried out by the FBI on Thursday of Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Hammond Police Department. The raids were part of a year-long investigation into a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency task force accused of a massive conspiracy to rob drug dealers and profit from selling the stolen narcotics.
According to the Advocate, two former members of the New Orleans-based task force — both of whom worked for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office — are facing federal charges, and one pleaded guilty earlier this year to state drug conspiracy charges.
During the raids on Thursday, both departments were completely shut down as FBI agents seized computers, cellphones and case files. The raids involved an earlier investigation the Free Thought Project reported on in March.
After Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy and DEA task force member Johnny Domingue took a plea deal and began rolling over on his co-conspirators, the FBI has nabbed more crooked cops.
Before he started selling out his fellow criminal DEA cops, Domingue acknowledged that drugs had been stolen “with the dual purpose of ingesting them and selling them for profit.” He also admitted to selling cocaine that had been stored in evidence bags at the DEA’s office in Metairie.
During the raid on Dominque’s house in January, authorities found a whopping 300 grams of cocaine hydrochloride, oxycodone pills, methadone, Xanax and “a voluminous number of manila envelopes that contained additional prescription medications,” according to court documents.
According to the Advocate, the materials taken during Thursday’s raids included a computer from the office of Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, said one law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the operation. Edwards is the brother of Gov. John Bel Edwards.
“They’re basically treating these buildings like crime scenes,” the official said.
When multiple police departments are treated like crime scenes there might be a problem.
“The investigation is ongoing, with many more investigative actions to take place,” Jeffrey Sallet, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Orleans office, told reporters.
As the Advocate reports, Thursday’s searches marked an escalation of the misconduct investigation, which has been steeped in secrecy for months as investigators dug into the background of several task force members, including Chad Scott, a longtime DEA agent.
The investigation into Scott goes back decades, as this corrupt cop, who’s since been stripped of his badge, is accused of manipulating witnesses in murder cases as well as leading the crooked drug task force who robbed people and sold drugs.
In fact, as reported by the Advocate, Scott helped to create a pipeline of task force officers who began their careers in Tangipahoa Parish, having recruited Domingue and others to join the narcotics team.
Scott was literally building his own gang of criminal cops.
On Thursday, the FBI refused to elaborate on why they raided the Hammond Police Department. However, DEA task force member, Karl Newman worked for the department. In March, Newman was implicated in the drug and cash conspiracy and is currently facing charges, including robbery and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and Oxycodone.
What this case illustrates is the criminal incentive created by the war on drugs and the monopoly of power granted specifically to those tasked with carrying it out. Making arbitrary substances illegal, and then tasking individuals with the control of those substances creates a temptation of easy money that is hard to pass up.
This case is hardly isolated as this scenario is but a broken record of corruption, playing over and over again in departments across the country.
As the Free Thought Project reported in January, a California police officer was busted after driving 247 pounds of marijuana all the way across the country. Yuba County Deputy Christopher M. Heath was caught in York, Pennsylvania with a shipment of marijuana that was worth over $2 million.
This cases were similar as Heath was an officer on a narcotics task force, meaning that he was responsible for putting nonviolent people in prison for using and selling drugs as well. Meanwhile, he was selling drugs and taking part in the same actions that he was locking people up for. State hypocrisy at its worst.