St. Bernard Sheriff cracks down on suspected dealers

The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested nearly three dozen suspected drug dealers in an early morning operation Wednesday that Sheriff James Pohlmann said is a push back against a growing narcotics trade in the parish.

The roundup netted 31 arrests of suspects the Sheriff’s Office has accused of selling heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs. Authorities still are searching for seven suspects: Cernell Davis, 39, of Violet; Garrett Felger, of Slidell; Earl Harris, 25, Chalmette; Rodney Green Jr., 28, of Violet; Derek Smith, 21, of New Orleans; Dwight Carter, 23, of Chalmette; and Michael Currera, 34, of Chalmette.

Pohlmann said the growing number of heroin distributors in St. Bernard Parish concerns his office because of the havoc the drug can wreak on a community. He expressed anger at the sheer number of undercover heroin purchases deputies were able to make while conducting the investigation and said that must change.

“This is all-out war for the future of our parish,” Pohlmann said in a news release. “We have zero tolerance for drug dealers. Users need rehabilitation, but drug dealers need to go to prison.

Steve Cannizaro, a sheriff’s spokesman, said the arrests were part of Operation Summer Heat, an ongoing effort in the parish that already resulted in 42 arrests in the fall.

Additional undercover narcotics purchases, which are typically needed to obtain arrest warrants, are planned for the rest of the year, said Maj. Chad Clark, the commander of the special investigations division in the Sheriff’s Office.

Cannizaro said the roundup netted 23 male and eight female suspects. Several additional suspects were already in custody from previous investigations, including one that police say led them to 10 pounds of marijuana hidden under a child’s bed at a Chalmette home earlier this month.

Pohlmann said his office is stepping up its targeting of drug dealers because he believes that if dealers are allowed to establish a foothold in St. Bernard Parish, increased violence will follow them.

Although the parish has narcotics users, they often made purchases in nearby New Orleans, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The suspects arrested range in age from 17 to 59 and mostly live in the Chalmette area.