DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Louisiana

For Immediate Release

Monday, April 1, 2024
Ronald C. Gathe, Jr.
, United States Attorney

Thirteen Members of a Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Involving Louisiana State Penitentiary Inmates, Former Angola Guards, and Other Sentenced to Federal Prison

United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announced the sentencing of thirteen individuals by Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick in connection with an extensive federal, state, and local investigation by the Middle District Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) aimed at a large-scale cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine trafficking network based in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, with suppliers in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, and Colton, California.

Michael Augustine, age 44, of Erath, Louisiana, was sentenced to 51 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Augustine to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Arthur Basaldua, age 44, of Angola, Louisiana, was sentenced to 192 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Basaldua to serve five years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Manuel Cadena, age 44, of Hesperia, California, was sentenced to 48 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Cadena to serve four years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Michael Cadena, age 33, of Hesperia, California, was sentenced to 48 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Cadena to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Jeffery Day, age 38, of Centreville, Mississippi, was sentenced to 57 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Day to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Deanthony Ford, age 37, of Angola, Louisiana, was sentenced to 151 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Ford to serve five years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Joshua Gonzalez, age 40, of Angola, Louisiana, was sentenced to 72 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Gonzalez to serve five years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Jared Graham, age 34, of Angola, Louisiana, was sentenced to 126 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Graham to serve four years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Xavier Johnson, age 39, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was sentenced to 80 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Johnson to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Dudley Melancon, age 35, of Angola, Louisiana, was sentenced to 72 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Melancon to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Ismael Ochoa, age 37, of Riverside, California, was sentenced to 90 months imprisonment in federal prison following his convictions for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine and unlawful travel in the aid of racketeering enterprise.  The Court further sentenced Ochoa to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Kevin Narcisse, age 38, of Angola, Louisiana, was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Narcisse to serve five years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Nelson Tippen, age 44, of Angola, Louisiana, was sentenced to 48 months imprisonment in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.  The Court further sentenced Tippen to serve three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment.

Through their pleas, the defendants admitted involvement in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine between February 2017 and May 2019.  During that time, the defendants worked in concert with each other to obtain and distribute controlled substances in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and elsewhere through the use of correctional officers and other non-incarcerated individuals, and with the intent to profit from the distribution of these controlled substances.  Most of the controlled substances distributed by this drug trafficking network were shipped to addresses in Baton Rouge from individuals in California.  

U.S. Attorney Gathe stated, “The sentencing of these 13 defendants is evidence of our commitment to dismantling large-scale criminal conspiracies and drug trafficking networks.   With the use of federal, state, and local partnerships we identified individuals from California to Louisiana and were able to hold them accountable for their narcotics distribution through Angola State Penitentiary.  The collaborative efforts into OCDETF investigations reduces the availability of illegal narcotics in our communities, and we will continue this approach to fetter out organized crime in our district.”

“The FBI’s goal is to identify and target criminal enterprises and other groups engaged in drug trafficking.  Today, justice was served to those who chose to traffic and distribute illicit narcotics in Angola State Penitentiary.  I want to thank the efforts and collaboration of the United States Attorney's Office, the United States Postal Inspection Service, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as the Louisiana Department of Corrections, the Louisiana State Police, and St. Francisville Police Department who worked tirelessly to dismantle this criminal enterprise,” stated the FBI Special Agent in Charge Lyonel Myrthil.  “I assure you, the FBI will continue to enforce the laws and intervene when drug traffickers distribute narcotics on the streets or in the prison system.”

This investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Louisiana Department of Corrections, the Louisiana State Police, and the St. Francisville Police Department.   The case was prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney April Leon Johnson and Assistant United States Paul L. Pugliese.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.  Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

New Orleans Field Division