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|Clayton man arrested in federal drug case|
The Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office Narcotics Task Force assisted U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials early Monday morning as they seized numerous vehicles owned by Ples Edward Dobbins, 40, 153 Dianne St., Clayton.
According to a DEA agent working on the case, Dobbins was simultaneously being arrested by Louisiana State Police Monday morning as he was driving on Highway 15 at Peck, just north of Sicily Island, as part of the culmination of a more than three-year investigation into drug trafficking.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Investigation, led by U.S. Attorney Jim Letten of the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Louisiana, has been investigating the ring of alleged drug traffickers since early 2005 that owned and/or operated several pain clinics in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and, prior to Hurricane Katrina, also in New Orleans.
"At one time," the DEA agent noted, "these pain clinics distributed more oxycontin than any other outlet in the entire United States." The clinics were Reddi Care Ambulatory Clinic in Baton Rouge, Maximum Urgent Care in Lafayette and Stanton Trinity Urgent Care in New Orleans. Law enforcement agencies shut the clinics down in January.
Agencies involved in the joint case with the DEA included the IRS, the Louisiana State Police, the Kenner Police Department, the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office and other local agencies around the state. CPSO narcotics officers Billy Joe Ratcliff and Larry Lawrence worked with the DEA agents throughout Monday morning.
Just as Dobbins was being arrested and his assets were being seized, others involved in the drug trafficking case around the state were being arrested at the same time.
Dobbins has been indicted on conspiracy charges. Also indicted in the case were Deshawn Whatley, 29, of Baton Rouge; Jimmy Lee Winters, 28; and Joshua Williams, 23.
According to the indictment, the proceeds of the illegal drug trafficking and healthcare fraud operation were laundered and used to purchase assets such as real property and luxury automobiles by Dobbins and others.
Among the items seized at Dobbins' Clayton residence were a 2006 F350 Ford dually pickup truck, a 2004 BMW 745 LI automobile, a 2006 Dodge Magnum automobile, a 2003 Suzuki racing motorcycle, a 14-ft. wide utility trailer and four 4-wheelers. It is believed that all were purchased with drug trafficking monies, according to law enforcement officials.
Lafayette physician Dr. Joseph Braud, 81, was indicted on federal charges of conspiring to illegally dispense prescription drugs from the three Louisiana clinics.
Others included in the 17-count indictment are pharmacist Thadrian Johnson, 47, of Hahnville; Candace Wilson, 35, and Monica Jones, 38, both of Baton Rouge.
Patrick Warner, acting special agent in charge of the DEA's New Orleans office, said clinics such as those involved in this case are nothing more than "pill mills."
"They are nothing but veiled sources of drug supply that fuel miserable addictions of many, while grossly enriching the few greedy individuals who are involved in these illegal practices," he added.
"I'm extremely glad that the CPSO could assist federal agents in this case," stressed Sheriff Randy Maxwell. "All items were seized without incident, and the level of cooperation in this case among law enforcement agencies around the state was fantastic."
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