A Baton Rouge man pleaded guilty this week to federal charges stemming from a major drug trafficking operation that sent heroin from Mexico to California, where it was pressed to resemble more expensive oxycodone pills and then shipped to the Baton Rouge area and elsewhere to be sold by drug dealers, U.S. Attorney Walt Green reported Friday.
Daryl D. Walker, 42, one of those dealers, admitted to Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson that he possessed with the intent to distribute 6,000 heroin pills. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a sawed-off shotgun.
Federal prosecutors placed the value of those pills at $180,000 — or $30 apiece — and are seeking to have Walker forfeit that amount of money.
Green said more than 35,000 pills with a street value of more than $1 million were involved in an indictment returned by a Baton Rouge federal grand jury in October 2015 against three men from California and eight more from Louisiana, including Walker, also known as “Shy” or “Chi.”
“By disguising the heroin as oxycodone, the pills could be sold at a higher price since heroin cost less than oxycodone,” the indictment stated.
Walker faces up to 50 years in federal prison, Green said. His sentencing is set for Aug. 4.
“This is and has been a complicated case. We’re working very hard to defend Mr. Walker at sentencing to help ensure that he receives a fair and just sentence,” his attorney, James Spokes, said Friday.
Most of the major players in the case are awaiting trial, including 32-year-old Aaron Lambert, of Baton Rouge. Aerial surveillance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed the delivery of heroin to Walker by Lambert, according to Green.
Walker was identified as a potential heroin dealer as part of a substantial heroin-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracy investigation conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Tactical Diversion Squad; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he said.
“My office, together with our federal, state and local partners, will continue efforts to eliminate drug trafficking and the significant harmful effects on our community resulting from heroin distribution and use,” Green pledged.
The Louisiana State Police, East Baton Rouge Parish and Iberville Parish sheriff’s offices, and the Baton Rouge and Plaquemine police departments assisted with the probe, he said.