Duson Police Chief Kip Judice, right, talks to media as Lafayette Sheriff Mark Garber, left, and Acadia Sheirff K.P. Gibson look on. (Acadian-Tribune photo by Steve Bandy)
Police seize $1.3M in drugs
It’s being touted as “the biggest drug bust in Duson law enforcement history” by Police Chief Kip Judice.
But Sunday’s seizure of more than 13 kilograms of cocaine, with a street value of $1.3 million, was also one of the strangest.
“This investigation is like no other. Usually, we make an arrest when someone sells drugs to an undercover agent, then we seize the drugs,” Judice said during a press conference Monday afternoon at the Duson Community Center. “This time, we’ve seized the drugs, but we’re still looking for the suspect. We’re working backwards”
Judice explained that police were tipped off to the presence of the illegal narcotics by an anonymous caller to 911 at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
According to the police chief, the caller reported that he had been solicited to drive a blue Dodge Caravan van from the Super 8 Motel near Interstate 10 in Duson to a site in Lafayette.
“The caller said he had been offered money and that the van ‘had a lot of cocaine in it’,” Judice said.
Officers were able to obtain a search warrant based on an alert by a Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office K-9 officer.
“At 4:10 Sunday afternoon we executed a search warrant on the van,” Judice said. “The search resulted in the recovery of 12 packs of cocaine, each wrapped in duct tape, which were concealed in the back hatch and side panels of the vehicle.”
Due to weather and lighting conditions, the van was secured at law enforcement property and a second warrant has been granted to allow for an additional search with more extensive tools and resources, Judice said.
The Duson chief, flanked by Acadia Parish Sheriff K.P. Gibson and Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber, said that the Sunday morning call was actually the second anonymous call regarding the van with Tennessee plates.
Judice said the first call was made Thursday night, June 1, and the caller expressed “suspicious activities” regarding the vehicle.
“We’ve been poring through hours and hours of surveillance video from that time period forward,” said Judice. “We’re hoping that one of these callers will come forward, especially the Sunday morning caller, who could give us specific information as to the identification of the suspect.”
Judice said some attempts have been made to trace the phone and to call it back, but to no success.
“The man who called (Sunday) does have a conscience and his — along with the other person who called in — information could prove vital to this investigation.”
Both Gibson and Garber acknowledged the efforts of all the agencies involved in the investigation.
“Together we are greater that the sum of our parts,” Garber said.
Gibson noted that, while the person responsible has not yet been captured, the seizure of the drugs represents a great victory for all of Acadiana.
“I’ve always thought that about 70 percent of all crime is drug-related in one form or another. These drugs weren’t meant just for Lafayette,” he said. “The cocaine on this table would have been distributed all over Acadiana, not just in the parishes that are represented here.”
Agencies involved in the investigation included the Duson Police Department, Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Lafayette Metro Narcotics Task Force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Officials said Monday that several leads are being followed, but encouraged anyone with specific information about the van to call Lafayette Crime Stoppers at 232-8477 or Acadia Parish Crime Stoppers at 7889-8477.
Callers will remain anonymous and could earn up to a $1,000 cash reward.
“Any little bit of information could help us,” Judice said.