United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today that U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles sentenced DARWIN A. ELPHAGE a/k/a “Zero,” age 40, of Gonzales, Louisiana, to 120 months in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 2; distribution of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); and unlawful use of communication facilities, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b).
ELPHAGE was charged in an extensive federal, state, and local investigation aimed at dismantling a large scale heroin trafficking network based in Ascension Parish, Louisiana, and Houston, Texas. The indictment charges significant drug trafficking, racketeering, firearm, and conspiracy charges. To date, investigative efforts have resulted in the seizure of over one and a half kilograms of heroin, substantial amounts of methamphetamine, crack cocaine, and oxycodone. Authorities have also seized seven firearms, over $314,000 in drug proceeds, and three vehicles allegedly used in the drug trafficking venture: a 2013 Porsche 911, a Mercedes CLS550, and a GMC Hummer.
From September 22, 2015 to April of 2016, ELPHAGE conspired with eleven additional members of the drug trafficking organization to distribute in excess of one kilogram of heroin, in the Middle District of Louisiana, as set forth in the Indictment.
As part of the conspiracy, Jason Muse purchased kilogram quantities of heroin from Morito Tobar, Aron Winter Mosquera-Castro, Santos Mosquera-Candelo, and Fabio Zuniga-Caicedo. ELPHAGE, working under the direction of Jason Muse, distributed the heroin to Jason Muse’s customers and his own customers for further distribution in Baton Rouge, Ascension Parish, and elsewhere.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “There is no room for this kind behavior in our communities…none. Fortunately, when it comes to kilo-level drug dealers like this defendant, there is room in the federal penitentiary. This is yet another reminder that bad behavior by dangerous felons results in significant sentences in federal court. Removing deadly drugs like heroin, oxycodone, crack, and meth from the streets of Ascension Parish makes our communities safer. I am extremely proud of the efforts of the many law enforcement partners on the local, state and federal levels who joined forces in an effort to dismantle this operation.”
“The sentencing today of DARWIN A. ELPHAGE a/k/a “Zero, sends a clear message to all who engage in the distribution of illegal drugs and to those who plague our neighborhoods with violence that we will work together to see that you are brought to justice. Federal and local law enforcement successfully collaborated in order to put ELPHAGE in federal prison for 120 months as a result of his involvement with a violent drug trafficking organization in the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Area,”said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Brad L. Byerley.
This operation is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Baton Rouge City Police Department, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police, and the Gonzales Police Department. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Kleinpeter, who also serves as a deputy criminal chief.
The investigation is another effort by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program that was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers. Today, the OCDETF Program is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General’s drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises. The OCDETF Program operates nationwide and combines the resources and unique expertise of numerous federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated attack against major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.