Lafayette Police Investigation Finds Drug Dealers Posing As Panhandlers
During a press conference Mayor-President of Lafayette Joshua Guillory, along with other parish officials including Lafayette Police Chief Thomas Glover, released the details of a drug investigation that found multiple drug dealers posing as panhandlers across the city of Lafayette.
The narcotics operation conducted by Lafayette authorities brought about 33 cases of illegal drug sales with 26 suspects who were either panhandling or pretending to be in need. These individuals are currently being sought for arrest and a large portion of those are believed to have been getting their supply of drugs from a person who is currently in jail.
Illegal drugs that were discovered in this operation ranged from substances like Marijuana to Crack Cocaine, Methamphetamine, and Heroin/Fentanyl.
Popular locations and high-profile areas across the city were where many of these suspects would set-up-shop. Areas close to the interstates, exits, and major stopping points along roadways like Ambassador Caffery and Johnston Street were hot-spots for this activity.
Chief Glover was asked by a member of the media if this was the reason for the installation of the panhandling signs, which got mixed reactions from members of the community, that have been seen across Lafayette.
The Lafayette Police Chief said that the signs were installed because panhandling is illegal by state law, but did add that any time they came in contact with someone that was panhandling they made sure to determine if that person was involved with illegal drug activity. He reiterated that the generosity of the people of Lafayette should be directed to organizations that provide help for those in need.
During the investigation, a local narcotics agent was contaminated with fentanyl during his undercover work. The agent was taken to the emergency room for treatment after the dangerous drug was blown into the undercover officer's face by wind. Chief Thomas Glover made this point in order to reiterate the importance of avoiding giving out money to panhandlers on the side of the street, as this interaction could lead to drug contamination.
Lafayette Narcotics officers worked to determine individuals who were posing as displaced people while operating as drug dealers, some of which authorities believe were feeding their own addiction through the illegal activity.
Another point that Chief Glover made was that some of these dealers would argue over who would get which corners at different times of the day, as they would bring in hundreds of dollars per shift. The police Chief pointed out that this brought up a possible situation where the dealers took advantage of the kindness of locals who would give out money.
No drug raids have been conducted, according to Chief Glover, but there is a plethora of evidence that was gathered by undercover narcotics agents throughout this investigation.
At the conclusion of his statements, Chief Glover stressed the importance of not giving money out to panhandlers on the side of the road as generous people may be fueling a possible drug cartel. He did encourage those who want to help to give to local agencies that are in place to help those in need.