NewsCovering Louisiana


Federal court sentences Kaplan man for drug trafficking

U.S. Western District Courthouse
Posted at 4:26 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 17:26:31-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — The U.S. District Court sentenced Blandon Richard, 45, of Kaplan to seven and half years in prison after he pled guilty to charges relating to drug trafficking activities in the Lafayette area.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Western District of Louisiana, Richard a/k/a Blandon Todd Bessard, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael J. Juneau to 90 months (7 years, 6 months) in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin.

Richard was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2019 on the charge and he pleaded guilty November 4, 2020. The charges in the indictment stemmed from an investigation into the drug trafficking activities of Richard and his co-defendants in the Lafayette area beginning in January 2019.

Law enforcement agents obtained authority to intercept cell phone calls of Richard’s co-defendant, the release states. During the course of their investigation, agents overheard Richard on phone calls on multiple occasions between he and his co-defendant wherein Richard discussed obtaining heroin to redistribute to other people for profit.

In February 2019, law enforcement agents intercepted phone calls from Richard to his co-defendant making arrangements to obtain heroin from him, the release adds. Agents conducting physical surveillance observed Richard go to the co-defendant’s house and come out a short time later.

Surveillance of Richard’s vehicle continued and after committing a traffic violation, officers with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office stopped the vehicle. Officers observed in plain view in the ashtray of the vehicle a baggie which contained what appeared to be a controlled substance. At that time, officers retrieved the controlled substance and put Richard in handcuffs and advised him of his Miranda rights.

An occupant in the vehicle with Richard was also handcuffed and advised of her Miranda rights. She admitted to law enforcement officers that when they were stopped by law enforcement, Richard told her to hide the baggie containing what was thought to be a controlled substance and she put in her pants. She retrieved the drugs and officers seized it. The substance in the bag weighing approximately 11.6 grams was later field-tested and was determined to be heroin.

John Allen Whitaker, 49, of West Monroe, was also sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter to 96 months (8 years) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Whitaker was indicted by a federal grand jury on December 18, 2019 and he later pleaded guilty to the charge on November 4, 2020. The charge stems from a traffic stop conducted by a Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy on August 15, 2019.

Whitaker was stopped for a traffic violation and during the stop, deputies found that he possessed more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Deputies arrested Whitaker and after voluntary waiver of his Miranda rights, he admitted that the methamphetamine belonged to him.

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