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Eleven Individuals Charged with Trafficking Heroin and Other Illegal Narcotics

DEC 16 (BATON ROUGE, La.) – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Eric Watson and United States Attorney Walt Green announced the unsealing of an indictment returned by a federal grand jury.  The indictment is against 11 defendants in a year-long operation and investigation into a drug-trafficking conspiracy involving the shipment of heroin from California to Baton Rouge and the distribution of heroin and other controlled substances in the Greater Baton Rouge area.

Among other things, the indictment alleges a conspiracy to distribute significant amounts of heroin in Baton Rouge that had been pressed to resemble oxycodone pills in California and then shipped to Baton Rouge using various means of transportation. Upon arrival in Baton Rouge, the pills were then distributed to mid-level drug dealers and ultimately sold to drug abusers in East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parishes.

The indictment charges the following 11 defendants who, if convicted, face significant terms of imprisonment, fines, and forfeiture of proceeds from the illegal drug offenses:

  • Michael Almanza, age 44, of Costa Mesa, California, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin, distribution of heroin on three separate occasions, and forfeiture.
  • Logan Brannon, age 30, of Newport Beach, California, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin, distribution of heroin on three separate occasions, conspiracy to launder drug proceeds, and forfeiture.
  • Aaron Lambert, age 32, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin, distribution of heroin on three separate occasions, laundering drug proceeds, and forfeiture.
  • Efrain Barajas, age 26, of Hesperia, California, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin, distribution of heroin on three separate occasions, and forfeiture.
  • Brian Keith Hano, Jr., age 32, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin and forfeiture.
  • Justin Scott, age 32, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin, distribution of heroin on three separate occasions, possession with intent to distribute heroin, distribution of tramadol, and forfeiture.
  • Daryl Walker, age 42, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin, and forfeiture.
  • Keenan Harris, Jr., age 35, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, distribution of heroin on two separate occasions, and forfeiture.
  • Christopher Dean, age 35, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and forfeiture.
  • Christian Becnel, age 32, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, distribution of heroin, and forfeiture.
  • Randall Pendarvis, age 33, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, is charged with distribution of tramadol and forfeiture.

Eric Watson stated “Heroin has become an epidemic in our communities and identifies with no specific demographic or socio-economic class. It is poisoning our neighborhoods and contaminating our schools, which causes terrible harm to the quality of life in any community. DEA is committed to aggressively attacking criminals who target the weak and addicted with their parasitic drug-trafficking methods. As the public should expect, we will continue to work side by side with our local law enforcement partners in order to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Baton Rouge and across the country.”

U.S. Attorney Green stated “My office continues to work alongside dedicated law enforcement agents to combat drug-trafficking organizations and the horrific impact they have on our community. As recently announced, East Baton Rouge Parish has had more heroin overdose deaths this year than ever before. These deaths impact families and communities and are the direct result of heroin being introduced and trafficked in the Greater Baton Rouge area. We will continue our tireless efforts at identifying heroin traffickers at all levels and ensure they face the justice that they deserve. I appreciate the dedication and hard work by all of our law enforcement partners in this ongoing fight against heroin traffickers.”

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with assistance from Louisiana State Police, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Baton Rouge Police Department and the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.  


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