Drug ring operated in Baton Rouge mall parking lots, Lakeshore Drive home, indictment says – The Advocate

A crew of drug dealers that served as a major supplier of heroin and cocaine in East Baton Rouge Parish routinely exchanged dope at run-of-the mill places throughout the region, like Walmart parking lots and outside the Mall of Louisiana, prosecutors allege in a recently unsealed indictment.
A federal grand jury indicted six members of the drug ring on drug-related charges tied to racketeering, money laundering amid allegations that they trafficked hundreds of kilos of cocaine and heroin throughout the state for years.
Prosecutors allege some of the drugs were stored at a house on East Lakeshore Drive and then later sold at a Siegen Lane car wash and an auto parts store on Airline Highway. One meeting at a “burger spot” on College Drive was moved to a “taco place” near Essen Lane, the government said. One financial transaction occurred at the Tanger Outlet Mall in Gonzales, the indictment said.
Federal investigators seized 13 guns, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, more than $250,000 in illegal drug money and several luxury vehicles from the alleged dealers, who were indicted on a slew of drug and weapons charges, U.S. Attorney Ronald Gathe Jr., announced in a news release Tuesday.
The indictment, originally filed Aug. 25, was unsealed Monday. Gathe did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.
The slate of suspects included: Francisco Palma, a 42-year-old former Baton Rouge resident; Marco Antonio Filos, 40, of Marrero; Juan “Chaparrito” Villareal, 37, of Rome, Texas; 33-year-old Baton Rouge man Richard Antunez; Clarence Corey Anderson, 44, of Prairieville; and Brittany Adell Alison, a 33-year-old former Baton Rouge resident.
Each were indicted on conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin and unlawful use of communications facilities, authorities said. Palma also faces counts of money laundering, possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and unlawful travel in aid of racketeering purpose. 
The grand jury also found probable cause for a charge of unlawful travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise against Filos. Allison was named in a money laundering count.
The investigation, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, alleges the six suspects conspired to run the cocaine and heroin operation at a high level between October 2017 and February 2019. According to the 22-count indictment, Palma was the front man of the operation. He obtained kilograms of the drugs from unnamed sources in Mexico City, Mexico, then smuggled the shipments across the border so he could distribute his supply in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and other parts of the state.
Baton Rouge defense attorney Jarrett Ambeau, who is representing Palma, said the suspect is a respected businessman who owns a construction company. He maintained Palma’s innocence and said he plans to argue for his pre-trial release during a hearing Wednesday morning.
“When we get our day in court, we’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on,” he said Tuesday.
The 24-page charging affidavit provided insight into the alleged hierarchy and day-to-day structure of the organization. Allison and Palma lived together in a Baton Rouge home along East Lakeshore Drive. The couple often traveled to Mexico together to pick up the shipments of drugs, investigators said. The stored supplies of drugs in the home and Allison hid large amounts of cash that she laundered through the couple’s credit cards, authorities allege.
Meanwhile, Villareal and Palma seemed to operate as partners, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said Villareal got kilograms of cocaine and heroin from the same Mexican wholesalers that supplied Palma. They often sold to each other when one of them ran low on drugs, investigators said.
During one phone call, he complained to Villareal about an inferior level of cocaine being shipped from their Mexican suppliers. On at least two occasions, Palma drove to Houston to buy from Villareal, according to the indictment.
Filos, Antunez and Anderson were portrayed as middle men in the indictment, which alleged they bought their drugs from Palma and sold it to other dealers in New Orleans and the metro Baton Rouge area.
The indictment described several instances when Palma coached the three on how to collect and advised them not to let their customers get too behind on payments. On multiple occasions, Palma expressed warned Antunez about a flashy green truck he drove. 
Before a November 2018 meeting where Palma sold Antunez cocaine, he told him to “move around” before they met to make sure cops weren’t following him because the truck attracted too much attention, the indictment alleges.
Palma and company sought to operate under the radar, but they regularly conducted many of their deals in highly trafficked shopping areas, according to investigators who began documenting their meet-ups and phone conversations in June 2018. Authorities said the suspects transported drugs in their own vehicles and used phones in their own to negotiate deals and facilitate drug exchanges. 
“Allegations are allegations,” Ambeau said. “I can say that I can fly to the moon, but if I can’t really do it, then it’s not really much of a story. They’re just allegations. People like to talk, people like to say things. But at the end of the day, the truth will come out.”
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