In a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor-President Josh Guillory and Police Chief Thomas Glover discussed information about a major drug investigation in the city.
Glover said that approximately three months ago, officers began an investigation regarding the distribution of heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine in the City of Lafayette.
During their investigation, officers found that drugs were being distributed by people posing as panhandlers or indigent persons.
Thirty-three cases of illegal drugs sales were identified during the investigation with twenty-six individuals identified by the police department as suspects.
Glover says that at the beginning of the investigation an individual identified as a supplier was taken into custody. Police say that 14 of the 26 suspects are believed to have gotten their supply from that single individual who is currently in jail.
Glover says the suspects, who range in age from mid 20s to early 50s, are from all over the state with some from the New Orleans and Lake Charles areas.
The areas of the city that saw most activity were those near the interstate and major roadways including high-profile and highly populated locations. The main focus was on areas that had recently experienced open-air drug sales.
Some individuals, according to the chief, would argue about what corners to take and would make $400 to $500 dollars a shift.
The Chief says that one narcotics agent was contaminated with fentanyl while interacting with a panhandling suspect during an investigation. Glover says a strong gust of wind blew drug into the officer's face and he was taken to the hospital.
The Chief says that interacting with these panhandlers can be dangerous to the public due to that fact.
"Anytime we had a panhandler situation and were called to investigate, the department made sure they weren't a part of the drug ring," Glover said. "I think it's appalling that people would take advantage of the kindness of the citizens here and purport to be homeless or indigent people in need and then utilize the opportunity to sell drugs."
Glover said that in the City of Lafayette about 25 percent of the crime that occurs is connected to use or distribution of drugs. He said that the investigation has been successful in disrupting the flow of narcotics into the Lafayette community.
He added that people should be cautious when offering money those those who may only be posing as a panhandler or indigent person.
"Please do not stop to give money to panhandlers on the side of the road, said Glover. "You could be giving it to one of the social agencies in Lafayette that could help homeless. We encourage people to do that rather than supporting a possible drug cartel."
See the press conference below:
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