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5 LaPlace residents charged with firearm & drug conspiracy charges

NEW ORLEANS — U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced this week that a federal grand jury returned a nine-count indictment against five LaPlace residents on September 4. In order to protect the integrity of the investigation, the indictment remained sealed until last week.

The indictment charged Ellis Batiste Sr., 48, Tracy Morgan, 50, Eli Juan Moore, 25, Octavius Narcisse, 53, and Richard Gray, 60, with violations of the Federal Controlled Substances and Gun Control Acts.

The individuals allegedly participated in a poly-drug distribution network that operated in and around LaPlace. Thus far, law enforcement officials have confiscated more than 14 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride and 1 kilogram of fentanyl.

United States Attorney Strasser reiterated that an indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Members of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office led the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Duane A. Evans is prosecuting the matter.

Defendants are charged with the following federal offenses:

Count 1: Defendants BATISTE, MORGAN, MOORE, NARCISSE & GRAY

Violation: Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession With Intent to Distribute 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine Hydrochloride; Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession With Intent to Distribute 400 grams or more of Fentanyl, a quantity of heroin, a quantity of cocaine base, a quantity of methamphetamine. This violation comes with a minimum of 10 years up to a maximum of life imprisonment, up to a $10 million fine, at least five years supervised release (fentanyl and cocaine hydrochloride); up to 20 years imprisonment, up to a $1 million fine and at least three years supervised release (heroin, cocaine base, methamphetamine).

Count 2, Count 3 & Count 4: Defendant BATISTE

Batiste is charged with three counts of Distribution of a quantity of fentanyl and methamphetamine. Each of the three counts comes with a statutory penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment, up to a $1 million fine and at least three years supervised release.

Count 5: Defendant MOORE

Violation: Distribution of a quantity of heroin. This violation comes with a statutory penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment, up to a $1 million fine and at least three years supervised release.

Count 6: Defendants BATISTE & GRAY

Violation: Use of Communication Facility. This count carries penalties of up to four years imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine and up to one year supervised release.

Count 7: Defendant MOORE

Violation: Felon in Possession of a Firearm. The penalty is up to 10 years imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine and up to three years supervised release.

Count 8: Defendants BATISTE & NARCISSE

Violation: Possession with Intent to Distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl and Possession with Intent to Distribute 500 grams or more of Cocaine Hydrochloride. The statutory penalties include a minimum 10 years up to a maximum of life imprisonment, up to a $10 million fine and at least five years supervised release (fentanyl); minimum five years up to a maximum of 40 years imprisonment, up to a $5 million fine and at least four years supervised release (cocaine hydrochloride).

Count 9: Defendants BATISTE & NARCISSE

Violation: Use of Communication Facility. The penalties are up to four years imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine and up to one year supervised release.