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Police: $1 million in illegal drugs, commercial-grade pill press seized in Louisiana

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 1:31 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC/Gray News) - A commercial-grade pill press machine and approximately $1 million in illegal drugs were seized during a police operation last week, authorities said.

Included among the illegal drugs was 170 grams of fentanyl, a potent narcotic that officials locally and nationwide have listed as a reason for a surge in overdose deaths, KPLC reported.

“I want to explain what a lethal dose of fentanyl is for the people here in southwest Louisiana: A grain of rice is about 21 milligrams, so if you cut that grain of rice seven times, you can kill seven people with a grain of rice worth of fentanyl,” said Lake Charles Police Chief Shawn Caldwell, speaking Wednesday alongside Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso and District Attorney Steven Dwight.

“This was a significant bust for our area and could have saved many lives,” Mancuso said.

Two suspects were arrested. Caleb Damon Barfield, 43, and Kimberly Rene Breaux, 30, both of Lake Charles, face drug and weapons charges, as well a charge of use of an illegal drug in the presence of a minor, since a child was also found in the home during the arrests.

In addition to the press and more than 170 grams of fentanyl gel, authorities found several items of note during the search, including 15 pounds of suspected methamphetamine and fentanyl powder mixture, more than 27 pounds of home-pressed suspected methamphetamine tablets, more than 600 grams of pressed purported oxycodone tablets, 50 ounces of promethazine syrup, weapons and $20,000 in cash.

Caldwell stressed the danger of street drugs, saying “To put this in perspective, Calcasieu Parish had 100 overdose deaths in 2021. And that’s compared to 52 the year before.”

“Our young people are dying at an alarming rate,” Mancuso said. “And let me tell you something, that 100 that died, that doesn’t count the calls that my office goes on, that the city goes on, that all the other police departments go on. It’s weekly, almost daily, that we respond to. I mean, who would have thought we’d have Narcan in all of our vehicles now? And we’re administering Narcan to citizens all over the parish to try and revive them and bring them back from these overdoses. Otherwise, it would be even worse.”

Mancuso urged people to talk to those that might be suffering from drug addiction.

“You know your family, you know your friends who are addicted to these drugs,” he said. “It’s a sad cycle and they don’t know who they’re getting these drugs from. And they’re just rolling the dice. It’s really no different than putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger to see if the gun’s loaded. It’s that dangerous.”

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