Sgt. Jason Parker has been wearing the uniform of law enforcement for the past 20 years, including 12 as part of the Louisiana State Police SWAT unit, but it’s his service with Troop G’s narcotics investigation unit that has him excited.
“I took a lateral promotion to get back into the narcotics unit,” he said. “We have a five-man team covering a seven parish area in northwest Louisiana, and I am passionate about working with area agencies to take out these drug dealers.”
Included in his unit’s region of investigation are Caddo, Bossier and Webster parishes.
Parker told members of the Minden Lions Club that he and his team do not care who gets the credit when they take down a dealer, or take a load of narcotics off the streets.
“It’s not about who gets their names on the front pages of newspapers or on the TV news. It’s about getting to the bigger persons up the chain … getting to the drug sources no matter where we have to go to get them,” he said.
Parker told Lions members the types of narcotics coming into this area and being transported along Interstate 20 through Louisiana are the same law enforcement agencies across the country are combating.
Some of the narcotics his unit has come into contact with include:
Methamphetamine: “It used to be the meth labs we had difficulty with, but we’ve done a job on those. Now, it’s condensed and you have crystal meth,” Parker said. “It’s horribly addictive, especially if it is shot into the veins. Now, rather than cook it, a dealer can drive three hours to Dallas, go to a club, hook up with a dealer and be back with a supply to sell.”
Cocaine: “It’s a big problem in Shreveport, and there’s a lot of money associated with cocaine,” Parker said. “In one bust, we confiscated nearly $300,000. That was divided among various local agencies. Sixty percent went to the state and the money was used for equipment and resources for officers.”
Heroin: “Heroin isn’t a big problem here, but the drug is in the area. It is such a dangerous drug that the penalties are extremely stiff. A first offense gets you 10 to 40 years and second offense is 40 years to life,” he said.
Marijuana: “In addition to the packaged busts, last year we discovered three plots of growing marijuana plants, each about two acres in size,” Parker said. “That would be worth about a million dollars a plot. They were very sophisticated with generators and irrigation. Our unit found another plot last week with about 380 plants.”
Parker said illegal use of pharmaceuticals is one of the largest problems in the area. Individuals taking prescription pills are difficult to track and he said doctor shopping (going from one physician to another to obtain prescriptions) is serious.
“We rely heavily on emergency rooms and doctors to run charts and keep track of patients,” he said. “This helps us keep this in check.”
Synthetic marijuana is much more dangerous than those who use it may know, Parker said. And, he points out, local police have done a good job of cracking down on the synthetic cannabis.
“It’s very popular with young people, but this stuff will kill you. There are chemicals sprayed on it that are very dangerous. (Minden) Chief (Steve) Cropper and his officers have done a good job of stomping this problem out in local stores. Still, users are going to get it somewhere.”
Clamping down on drug traffickers has become a lot more than a criminal patrol unit making a traffic stop and discovering illegal narcotics under a car seat or in the trunk, Parker said.
“It isn’t a bag in the trunk any more,” he said. “The traffickers have come up with unique methods of transporting the narcotics. We found two kilos of cocaine and a large number of Ecstasy tablets in an airbag compartment, and one vehicle had a dashboard which raised to reveal a hidden compartment.”
In one case, Parker said a female stopped by a patrol unit had three pounds of cocaine strapped around her person.
“She said she was pregnant. We knew something was up and when I patted her around the stomach and felt that package, the fight was on,” he said.
“We know there’s no way we will stop it all, but we do the best we can,” Parker said. “That is what we will continue to do … the best we can.”