Operation Havana Speed with links to local horse racing
Large drug busts leads to 18 arrests
Following an investigation which lasted more than 18 months, investigators from various law enforcement agencies in Louisiana have arrested 18 people in connection with a huge influx of crystal meth into the area. Many of the suspects involved are in the horse racing industry such as being horse owners, trainers, jockeys and
In addition, several of the suspects are in the United States as illegal residents.
The investigation, named “Operation Havana Speed” was conducted by members of the CAT team. The combined anti-drug task force was formed several years ago with a main goal of identifying, targeting and dismantling major drug organizations. The team which smashed the drug scheme team consists of members from the Lake Charles Police Department, Calcasieu Parish Sherriff’s Office, Homeland Security
Investigations with the assistance of the Louisiana State Police and F.B.I..
During the operation, over 120 local, state and federal law enforcement officers executed numerous search warrants and arrest warrants in multiple locations in Texas and Louisiana. Also assisting in this raid were members of the Sulphur Police Department, Vinton Police Department, United States Marshal Service and the U.S. Border Patrol. This raid has resulted in 11 executed search warrants and 19 arrests. During the course of the search warrants, crystal meth was recovered at different locations. Several weapons and three active meth labs were also discovered.
The organization was responsible for bringing multiple kilos of methamphetamine at a time into the area,
As a result, a horse trailer, meth, drug lab equipment and vehicle were seized and there are more seizures to come, said Lt.
Gene Pittman, director of the CAT task force. In addition, steroids believed to be used on horses was also seized.
“This investigation has consumed numerous hours of investigation, surveillance to include aerial by C.P.S.O. plane, and numerous undercover buys of crystal meth, “ Pittman said. “The investigation determined lab quality crystal meth was being transported from locations in Texas to the Vinton/Starks area of west Calcasieu parish.”
This investigation is continuing and it is anticipated there will be additional arrests, Pittman said.
Suspected ring leaders of the organization Mario Barrazacorral, located in Dallas, was arrested and is being held in Texas. Other suspects such as Sergio Reyes Castillo and Lazaro Perez Cribeiro are being held in the Calcasieu Correctional Center.
According to reports, authorities did not indicate whether any of the suspects were employed by Delta Downs. However, to date no officials at the racetrack were targets of the investigation.
Among the 18 arrests detailed in the report are Roderick Hawkins, Samuel Ackel, and Sergio Castillo who according to Equibase, they are listed as owners or trainers with their last starts at Delta Downs. Other arrests included; Alvin Smith, Billy Hyatt, Brian Hebert, James Celestine, Jarrid Hargrave, Jenee Hargrave, John Dunn, Luke Hanks, Philyss Shelton, Steven Mitchell, Theodore Corner and Rodney Viator.
The body of Jose Guadaloupe Perez Campos, 34, of Calcasieu Parish was discovered May 16 in the Neches River. The link between the body and the drug organization is still under investigation. Louisiana officials are working with Jefferson County officials to determine if Campos was murdered and where the incident occurred.
The investigation is on-going as officials await the final autopsy results for the cause of death, according to information from the Jefferson County
The Louisiana Racing Commission may also get involved into the matter. However, they have yet to be provided with any information at this time. They are in the process of obtaining the information, according to Charlie Gardnier, of the Louisiana Racing Commission.
“The racing commission stands ready to address the information once it is received,” he said.