Drug bust nets $1.7M worth of meth, heroin, cocaine, Louisiana State Police reports

LSP Drug Bust

A cache of drugs with a street value estimated at $1.7 million - including more than 64 pounds of meth - was discovered after a traffic stop in Alexandria,State Policereported Saturday (Jan.28).  The arrest of the driver, who already was being investigated, led authorities to illegal narcotics in the car and in several houses, authorities say.  State Police identified the driver as Derrick Felton, 37, of Alexandria, and said the arrest culminated a month-long investigation into alleged illegal drug activity.  Felton, who was arrested Friday, was booked with possession with intent to distribute the $1.7 million in assorted narcotics.  He also was charged with resisting arrest by flight and failure to signal lane change, according to the police report.   The arrest led to the discovery of roughly 64 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, two pounds of heroin, two pounds of cocaine, and five pints of promethazine  syrup, an antihistamine and narcotic cough suppressant combination, authorities said.  Police say they also found more than $67,000 in cash.   More arrests are likely in the continuing investigation, according to the State Police report.   Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation: The Louisiana State Police, Alexandria Police Department, FBI Central Louisiana Safe Streets Task Force, Louisiana Probation and Parole, United States Postal Inspector's Office, Pineville Police Department, Louisiana Army National Guard Counter Drug Unit, the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office, and the Grant Parish Sheriff's Office. 



Footage captures driver crashing into Louisiana State Police unit


Louisiana State Police released video of a suspected impaired driver as he crashed into a unit Saturday.  On Saturday, shortly after noon, Louisiana State Troopers began receiving several emergency calls in reference to a vehicle being driven erratically on Interstate 12 westbound west of Hammond.  The callers would ultimately witness the vehicle crash into the rear of a Louisiana State Trooper as the Trooper was attempting to position himself to stop the target vehicle.  State Police say Florida resident Kyle Nadler was traveling westbound on Interstate 12 when he witnessed a Dodge truck being driven erratically.  Nadler and his wife calmly called 911, provided authorities with a vehicle description, and continually updated the exact location of the truck as it continued westbound on I-12.  Nadler and other motorists positioned themselves in a manner that prevented additional westbound traffic from approaching the unpredictable driver.  As Nadler was relaying the position of the truck, 911 operators and Troop personnel were updating responding Troopers.  The closest Trooper was able to position his unit on the right shoulder of I-12 west of the Pumpkin Center exit.  As the truck approached the Trooper, it veered off the right lane and crashed into the rear of the Trooper’s unit.  Troopers say they suspect the driver of the truck, Bradley Burch, was impaired on heroin at the time of the crash.  Burch and the Trooper both sustained minor injuries in the crash.  Burch was arrested and booked into the Tangipahoa Parish Jail for DWI, Reckless Operation, and Driving with a Suspended License.  Troopers would like to remind motorists to remain vigilant while traveling.  These callers exemplified the proper approach to notifying law enforcement of a dangerous impaired driver.  Louisiana motorists wishing to inform Troopers of dangerous roadway conditions are reminded to call *LSP [*577] to be connected with their nearest Troop.



Springer Spaniel helps Oregon State Police find drug trafficers

Oregon state police dog

Harley is a 3-year-old springer spaniel, and is an Oregon State Police drug dog who loves his job.  Harley works with Senior Trooper Jake Ledbetter from the state police office in Winchester.  The dog came from Belfast, Ireland, and got his job mainly because of the change in marijuana laws in Oregon.  When the state legalized marijuana, Ledbetter’s black lab, Charger, who was trained to detect marijuana, among other drugs, had to be retired.  So Harley has been a part of the enforcement team for about a year now, and Ledbetter said he is spot on when it comes to detecting drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.  It’s a job that can be pretty tough because of the effort by drug runners to disguise drugs with sophisticated packing and hiding them in hard to find places in all sizes of vehicles.  “When we’re finding these drugs, they’re wrapping them sometimes six or seven times in cellophane and vacuum sealing, and put grease and other stuff around it to try to prevent the dog from finding it,” said Ledbetter.  But Harley is extremely successful anyway, said Ledbetter.  He is a high energy dog, and when he gets focused on finding drugs, he is relentless in his pursuit.  “When you have a dog that has a high hunt drive, it’s a lot easier to train them, because you’re getting them focused on an area and once they’re imprinted on that, they want to go find it non-stop,” he said.  Since February of 2016, Harley and Trooper Ledbetter have located and confiscated 33 pounds of Methamphetamine, 2.3 pounds of Heroin, and 11.4 pounds of cocaine in 33 different incidents, according to Capt. Bill Fugate, the public information officer for the Oregon State Police.  Even though marijuana is not the focus any longer, Harley still gets plenty of chances to do his job. Ledbetter said he’ll use the dog anywhere from 50 to 70 times in a year.  The other more dangerous drugs, that the dog is trained to find, have increased in frequency in the county.  “Coke and heroin, it’s unbelievable how much of the stuff is going through this freeway,” Ledbetter said of Interstate 5.  “Heroin was unheard of five years ago, very rarely would you see it and now it’s everywhere.”  Harley has made a lot of drug finds in the past year, but there have been times that the dog will indicate a find, and they just can’t locate it.  Sometimes, it’s just too well hidden, but the dog has definitely picked up the scent and knows it’s there.  “We call it an unconfirmed alert, because we couldn’t find anything, but obviously we were looking for a reason,” Ledbetter said.  The dog is very accurate, the officer added.  In fact, about 95 percent of the time drugs are found.  A lot of times, drugs are hidden in sophisticated compartments ... in the hydraulics, under trunk latches and other hard-to-find places.  Ledbetter said the state police had to retire several dogs, although some were actually sold to other agencies that are on the lookout for large quantities of marijuana being shipped out of Oregon to other states where it is still not legal.  He said there is a lot of that activity, and a lot of officers, in eastern Oregon especially, are coming across loads of marijuana headed out of the state.  Because of the increase in the number of semis that are hauling illegal drugs, officers are now starting to focus more on the trucks and Ledbetter said it can be a big challenge.  “They have a legitimate reason for travel,” Ledbetter said, and  he added that makes it tougher to spot the trucks that might have contraband on board.  It took about four months to get Harley trained and certified, and Ledbetter continues to train him, working with him every day.   Ledbetter said the dog has been a tremendous help in finding the illegal narcotics, and he is the reason a lot of them never made it to the streets.  Ledbetter said the dog will work five to seven years before he is retired.  The two get pretty attached to each other after being together everyday.  “It’s weird, I spend more waking hours with the dog than I do my family,” he said.  “Harley’s been a real valuable addition to the force.”


Florida Highway Patrol revitalize their Arrive Alive campaign

Arrive Alive Florida

Recognizing that 2015 and 2016 have had a spike in serious injury and fatality crashes, the Florida Highway Patrol revitalized their Arrive Alive campaign, which was originally unveiled in 1970.  FHP has partnered with many of the law enforcement agencies within the state to target high crash corridors, or hot spots in order to drive down serious crashes.  The Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriff's Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration have all voiced their support of this initiative.  The Arrive Alive campaign will incorporate law enforcement presence, media outreach and road safety assessments in high crash and high crime areas through a data driven approach.  The information on each area will be shared with each partner agency and the area will be patrolled by both the local agency and the Florida Highway Patrol.   Florida currently boasts a population of over 20 million residents and hosted over 105 million visitors in 2015.  Considering the population explosion in Florida, the amount of visitors and the amount of highway freight transportation, the Florida Highway Patrol recognizes that leveraging technology and a partnership approach to traffic safety is a necessity in our effort to save lives.  The Patrol is utilizing a web based portal to collect data from each law enforcement officer working the hot spots in order to provide quarterly updates to our partners and to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.  This is not an enforcement campaign, this is a sustained statewide effort to reduce serious traffic crashes.  Together with their partners, the Florida Highway Patrol hopes this campaign will work towards driving down the number of traffic fatalities in the state.


Vermont State Police Bomb Squad Robot


On a recent morning, two members of the Vermont State Police Bomb Squad stared intently at two screens inside their truck parked outside the Williston barracks, their hands pressing nobs and softly moving joysticks on the computer's operation board. The mission: retrieve a hat and gloves from a visiting photographer's camera bag using two of the squad's three robots. It was gentle work, as the robots arms carefully hovered over the bag, grabbed its zippers and prodded the bag. Within 10 minutes, the robots had successfully handed the items to the photographer. "Mission complete," said Sgt. Bill Sweeney, a member of the squad. "That wasn't even that hard." While this task was just to show what the robots can do, the nine-member Bomb Squad faces real situations where the machines are used, said Sgt. Paul Ravelin, another squad member. The robots were  seen in action on Jan. 6  at the Federal Building on Elmwood Avenue in Burlington after a suspicious package was found at the post office. "It was an unknown to us," Ravelin said this week of the suspicious package. "We had information to believe that the package we were looking at had been moved by someone prior to us being there. Not knowing what it was we were approaching, we felt the best way to do it was to send a robot down and see what we would be dealing with." Each call for the Bomb Squad is different, and members typically initially assess whether the robots are needed. "We can put a robot downrange, instead of having human beings exposed to an unknown threat," Ravelin said. "We can do everything a human can do, but we can actually do it robotically." The squad uses three robots that are different sizes: a large robot that weighs about 500 pounds, a medium robot which weighs 125 pounds, and a small "point-man" robot weighs about 15 pounds and stands about one foot off the ground. Vermont State Police used funding from U.S. Homeland Security for the robots, Ravelin said. The largest robot cost $140,000, the medium robot was about $150,000, and the smallest robot cost about $25,000. The middle robot is the newest, purchased about a year-and-a-half ago, Ravelin said. The two larger robots have arms that can grab objects, and the smaller robot is used for reconnaissance. The largest robot, which is 14 years old and made of steel and aluminum, can also drag up objects up to 600 pounds. "A bomb tech in a suit weighs up to 300 pounds on average, so if a bomb tech goes down, we can use the robot to go down and pull that tech into safety," Ravelin said. The largest robot also allows for two-way communication: members of the bomb squad speak from a walkie talkie inside the squad truck, and those in the field can speak back through a speaker on the bot. Ravelin said the two-way communication could come in handy during a hostage situation when other attempts by crisis negotiators to contact a subject are unsuccessful. The robots have yet to be used for that purpose, but Bomb Squad members have trained for that possibility, he said. The Bomb Squad trains at least three times per year, sometimes alongside members of the Vermont Air National Guard, Ravelin said. The nine-member Bomb Squad team responds to about 25 to 50 calls per year throughout the state, according to the Vermont State Police website."If we can minimize the amount of time that we're actually standing over an IED, that's better for us in the long run," Ravelin said. "And if we're utilizing the robot to do that, and that's the better option, we'll take that opportunity every time."