DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

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

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, March 6, 2024
Brandon B. Brown
, United States Attorney

Traffic Stop in Calcasieu Parish Leads to Discovery of Cocaine in Vehicle

LAKE CHARLES, La. — U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced the sentencing of two men in Lake Charles yesterday on drug and firearms charges. U.S. District Judge James D. Cain, Jr. sentenced the defendants as follows:

Darwin Jose Escalante-Garache, 36, a nonresident of the U.S. living in Gulfport, Mississippi, was sentenced to 46 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The charges stem from a traffic stop conducted on Interstate 10 in Calcasieu Parish on Sept. 8, 2022, by Louisiana State Police troopers. During the stop, a K-9 officer alerted positive to the odor of narcotics emitting from Escalante-Garache’s vehicle. A search of the vehicle resulted in the discovery and seizure of one kilogram of cocaine hidden in the backseat pocket of the vehicle. The defendant admitted to possessing the cocaine with the intent to distribute to others. Escalante-Garache pleaded guilty to the charge on Nov. 13, 2023.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and Louisiana State Police and prosecuted by Assistant U.S.Attorney LaDonte A. Murphy.

In a separate case and unrelated case, Toni January, 25, of Lake Charles, was sentenced to 26 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. On March 20, 2021, a search warrant was executed by law enforcement officers at the residence of January. During the search, officers found a Glock Model 17 9mm pistol and other firearms. January was subsequently arrested and admitted that the Glock Model 17 firearm belonged to him. January has prior felony convictions for illegal possession of stolen things in 2017 and nonconsensual disclosure of a private image and possession of controlled substances in 2020. He was charged in this case with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and pleaded guilty on Oct. 25, 2023.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Lake Charles Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Vermaelen.


New Orleans Field Division