Five New Orleans residents are accused of running a heroin trafficking ring in the St. Roch neighborhood, according to an indictment that was unsealed Monday in Baton Rouge federal court.
The May 12 indictment names Miguel “Pretty” Joseph, 29; Edward “Burger” Lawrence, 32; Vantrell Toomer, 44; Michelle Marie Jefferson, 31; and Danielle Denise Taylor, 42.
All five are accused in a conspiracy to distribute heroin, and each faces additional drug counts or charges of unlawful use of a communications facility.
Federal authorities last year sought a wiretap on telephones linked to Joseph, Lawrence and two other men, according to an application for the wiretap from FBI Special Agent Robert Baird.
Baird claimed Joseph, who lives on Spain Street, made frequent heroin sales to an undercover officer and a confidential informant beginning in October 2014.
Lawrence was a middleman between Joseph and his alleged heroin supplier, Donald “Deebo” Ealy, according to the application. Ealy was charged last year in a separate federal indictment along with three others, also for allegedly distributing heroin.
When Ealy’s brother was killed in 2014 in a “drug-related dispute,” he moved for several months to Baton Rouge and passed his drug-dealing business to Joseph and others, the wiretap application states.
The case landed in the federal courthouse in Baton Rouge after New Orleans U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office recused itself. The reason for the recusal was unclear Monday.
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