For Immediate Release
Member of Large Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced to 360 Months in Federal Prison for Gun and Drug Charges
United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announced the sentencing of Travis R. James, age 38 of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as part of Operation Hidden Fee, an extensive federal, state, and local investigation by the Middle District Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) aimed at a drug trafficking network based and operating in Baton Rouge.
Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick sentenced James to 360 months in federal prison following his convictions of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and possession of firearms by a convicted felon. James must also serve five years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment. In imposing James’ prison term, the Court found that for years, James was a leader and organizer of a drug trafficking group consisting of thirteen individuals. It found that this group was generating large amounts of drugs and drug trafficking proceeds. His significant criminal history, in large part, consisting of criminal conduct committed while on supervision, and his history of violence were also factors militating in favor of the sentence it imposed. The Court further ordered that the firearms involved be forfeited and ordered James to pay a personal money judgment of $139,632 equal to the combined value of the proceeds and property used to facilitate the drug trafficking conspiracy.
According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, James led a group of individuals consisting of Troy James, Joshua Mansion, Kim Murphy, Yascia LaFrance, Belinda Carter, Cornelius Carter, and others in a venture to obtain kilograms of cocaine from various sources in Houston, Texas, transporting those amounts of cocaine to stash houses located in Baton Rouge and Prairieville, where amounts where some amounts of cocaine were broken down for distribution to others, and other amounts converted by James into crack cocaine, for sale to others.
In many instances, the amounts transported by this group into the Middle District involved five or more kilograms of cocaine per trip. During this investigation authorities seized and forfeited over $500,000 in drug trafficking proceeds from James as well as approximately eight firearms, two kilo presses, and heroin and cocaine testing kits. The investigation also revealed that James was making plans to branch out into heroin trafficking using the money he had accumulated from the sale of crack and powder cocaine. He was planning to commence that enterprise by purchasing a kilogram of heroin.
Earlier, Chief Judge Dick imposed a 115 month term of imprisonment upon Troy James; a 120 month term of imprisonment upon Joshua Mansion; a 168 month term of imprisonment upon Kim Murphy; a 90 month term of imprisonment upon Yascia LaFrance; a 120 month term of imprisonment term upon Cornelius Carter; and 19 months for Belinda Carter.
This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
This investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration with invaluable assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Baton Rouge City Police Department, and the Louisiana State Police. Other agencies also assisted in apprehending the defendants, including the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the Sheriffs’ Offices in Ascension, Iberville, and West Baton Rouge Parishes. These cases were prosecuted Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Piedrahita and Lyman E. Thornton III.