A 14-month investigation into a western St. Tammany Parish heroin distribution operation culminated in the arrests of 15 people late last week, including a Mandeville resident whom Sheriff Jack Strain described as the “head of the snake.”

Strain said Scottie Fisher, 29, had a “pretty sophisticated organization” of people in St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes selling heroin on his behalf. A resident of Mandeville, he is originally from Amite.

A dozen others are still being sought, the sheriff said.

Strain announced the operation, the work of a multiple-agency task force, at a news conference Monday morning.

He described the amount of heroin involved as about seven ounces — “not a large amount but nowhere near small.”

Those involved were users as well as dealers, and they were predominantly young, he said.

Strain, along with Mandeville Police Chief Rick Richard and Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz, described heroin as a north shore scourge that has resulted in overdoses — some of them fatal — and property crimes committed by addicts looking for money to buy the drug.

The investigation involved the State Police, Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

It was triggered by a call from a resident who had observed suspicious activity, Strain said.

The task force arrested 12 people Friday along with three others who were not initially targets.

Detectives seized five vehicles, several hundred prescription pain pills and several thousand dollars, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Fisher and eight others were booked on racketeering. The others were: Casey Evan Kebodeaux, 29, of Mandeville; Ryan O’shea, 29, of Mandeville; Dustin King, 27, of Mandeville; Chad Rehage, 41, of Mandeville; Dustin Carroll, 26, of Covington; Westley Bourg, 28, of Mandeville; Alanzo Sibley, 24, of Roseland; and Max Albert, 31, of Mandeville, who was also booked on two counts of possession of cocaine and possession of a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance.

Booked on attempt and conspiracy to distribute a Schedule 1 narcotic were Richard Gallelo, 39, of Mandeville; Michelle Blanchard, 51, of Mandeville; and Jamie Lynn Sanford, 29, of Mandeville.

Two suspects were booked on possession of marijuana and disturbing the peace: Todd Blanc, 29, of Mandeville; and Tashena Fisher, 31, of Mandeville.

Brittany Cyprian, 29, of Independence, was booked on possession with intent to distribute a hallucinogenic, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and a transaction involving proceeds from a drug offense.

The 12 suspects who remain at large were identified as Steven Jeffery Korte, 29; Brandon Speer, 27; Ryan Adams, 28; Robert Williams Jr., 25; Melvin Lacrouts III, 28; Mark Mahoney, 32; Paul Jonathan Jarrett Doty, 28; Ladameyear Fisher, 36; Adrone James, 31; Pierre James Jr., 29; Pierre Warford, 24; and Damien James, 27.

Roundup 2 7:24:15 from STPSO on Vimeo.