COURTS

Drug trafficker sentenced to 360 months; group used stash houses in Prairieville, Baton Rouge

Staff Report

According to admissions made as part of a guilty plea, a group used stash houses in Prairieville and Baton Rouge to sell illegal drugs trafficked from Houston.

According to a news release from United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe Jr., the group consisted of Troy James, Joshua Mansion, Kim Murphy, Yascia LaFrance, Belinda Carter, Cornelius Carter, and others.

They reportedly were involved in a venture to obtain kilograms of cocaine from various sources in Houston, then transporting it to the houses in Louisiana, where some amounts were broken down for distribution to others, and other amounts converted by James into crack cocaine, for sale to others.

Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick sentenced 38-year-old Travis R. James of Baton Rouge 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.  

The court found that for years James was a leader and organizer of a drug trafficking group consisting of 13 people, according to the release. His criminal history, in large part, consisting of criminal conduct committed while on supervision, and his history of violence were also factors in favor of the sentence.

The court also 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. 

In many instances, the amounts transported by the group to the Baton Rouge area involved five or more kilograms of cocaine per trip, the release stated. During the investigation authorities seized and forfeited over $500,000 in drug trafficking proceeds from James as well as some 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.

The operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces 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.

The 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 sheriff’s offices in Ascension, Iberville, and West Baton Rouge parishes. 

The cases were prosecuted Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Piedrahita and Lyman E. Thornton III.