Task force makes 106 arrests

OUACHITA PARISH Sheriff Jay Russell, center, details a two-day operation by a multi-jurisdictional task force that made 106 arrests last month. Russell was joined at the news conference Tuesday by Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew, left, and U.S. Attorney David Joseph, whose office serves the Western District of Louisiana.

Officers with the Ouachita Parish Multi-Jurisdictional Task Force made 106 arrests over two days last month as part of a street crime operation targeting the highest areas of drug use and firearms in the parish.

The task force, led by Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell, resulted in 40 warrant arrests, 31 felony arrests, and 35 misdemeanor arrests made on May 30 and May 31.

“It was successful,” Russell said. “We’re going to continue these task force operations. We’ll continue targeting those individuals who are suspected felons or who are ignoring their probation or have drugs of some sort in their possession.”

Fifty-five officers participated in the street crime operation.

Russell detailed the task force’s unannounced operation during a news conference Tuesday at the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Rifle Range in West Monroe along with Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew and David Joseph, who is the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.

“They’re taking the worst of the worst off the street,” Tew said.

The task force’s street crime operation would stem the “violent crime epidemic” in the area, according to Joseph.

“The good news is it’s working,” Joseph said. “My office has prosecuted 84 violent offenders. That’s triple the number of previous years. District Attorney Steve Tew has prosecuted even more.”

Joseph noted that his office often would step in to prosecute when the task force made an arrest of a suspect dealing enough narcotics or possessing a gun in the presence of drugs.

“In federal court, parole is not granted,” Joseph said. “In federal court, they stay in prison for the amount of time they’re sentenced there.”

When asked about how the task force selected its targeted areas, Russell said, “We studied statistics over the last six or seven months, where we saw certain crimes come to light.”

“Metro Narcotics helped us with that, by detailing where guns are going off or where drugs are accumulating, maybe in areas that haven’t been previously reported,” Russell said.

The drugs seized during the street operation included marijuana (36 grams), cocaine (eight rocks, 41 grams), methamphetamine (15 grams), ecstasy (13,056 units), as well as a number of prescription medication. Eight guns also were seized.

The agencies participating in the street operation included the Sheriff’s Office, Metro Narcotics, the West Monroe Police Department, Louisiana State Police, the district attorney’s office, ULM Police Department, Union Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Probation & Parole, West Carroll Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s office.

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