Prescription drugs continue to play a major role in illicit drug activity within Vermilion Parish today. One of the reasons for this is the ease in which suspected drug dealers can get their hands on the drugs. The people of Vermilion Parish can rest assured that the ease with which these people get the drug does not stem from illegal business behavior near home. The lions share is done outside of the state.
The Vermilion / Municipal Narcotics Task Force has been ensnared in a constant battle for a couple of years now with this same problem, and has made progress in the fight against what they call the "New Crack Cocaine". The problem in this fight arises when local persons with malicious intent travel to surrounding states and see doctors there for pain management. The visit, or lack thereof, as told to agents, is but a formality for them to getting large amounts of pain medication at such an easy cost. Sheriff Mike Couvillon states, "Once a suspect is being cooperative we ask them, if they truly need the drug for pain management, why would they travel such great distances to get help. Their response is there are some places, that most locals know just don't ask that many questions.
Not only that, but we are hearing that some of these so called "clinics" actually give the suspects names of pharmacy's in Louisiana that are easier to fill the prescriptions without so many questions." Sheriff Couvillon adds, "This makes it very tough on the agents to do their job because now you have a prescription filled by a pharmacy for people to go out now and perform an illegal act in selling the drugs." One thing agents are noticing is more and more of the prescriptions are being filled at pharmacies out of state. In one recent bust the agents noticed the labels on the bottle appeared to be printed off of a cheaper desk top printer. When they attempted to reach the number it turned out to be a cell phone. Agents are in close contact with out of state enforcement personnel and pass jurisdictional information on as they receive it.
Sheriff Couvillon, Chief Hardy and Chief Adams all agree the reason for the out of state filling is in large part due to local area pharmacies assisting agents with cracking down on fraudulent prescriptions. They stated, "We have a great working relationship with all of the pharmacies in the parish, and they will contact us when they think something may not look right. Their assistance is paramount in aiding in this fight".
Two persons were arrested lately for just such offenses.
-Derrius Lewis (dob 12-15-71) of Abbeville, arrested and charged with distribution of a schedule III narcotic, possession with the intent to distribute a schedule III narcotic, possession with the intent to distribute a schedule IV narcotic, and three counts of illegal use of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a juvenile.
Tracy St. Julien (dob 9-30-74) of Duson, arrested and charged with principal to distribution of a schedule III narcotic, principal to possession with the intent to distribute a schedule III narcotic, and principle to possession with the intent to distribute a schedule IV narcotic.
Sheriff Mike Couvillon would like to thank the following persons for their effort in assisting with Task Force personnel. Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza, Kaplan Mayor Kirk Champagne, Abbeville Chief of Police Tony Hardy and Kaplan Chief Boyd Adams "I realize times are financially tough all over, but the Mayors and Chiefs of these cities are committed to finding the funds to help the Task Force combat the illicit drugs problem that ruins our communities. The people of Vermilion and our children are the benefactors of these city leaders' great efforts. It is my hope that in the near future other towns and cities in the parish of Vermilion will be able to assist in the continuing fight against illicit drugs."
Finally, Sheriff Couvillon would like to applaud the concerned citizens of Vermilion Parish for their awareness and assistance in helping the Sheriff's Office in fighting the war on illegal drugs. He encourages all citizens with information in regards to illegal drug activities to contact the Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office or the Vermilion Parish Municipal Narcotics Task Force at 337-740-4501 or E-mail the Task Force anonymously at firstname.lastname@example.org and your e-mail will be held in the "strictest of confidence" and replied to in a very timely manner.
More information on reporting drug activities can be seen on our Web Site at www.vpso.net. Click on Task Force for this information.