A local drug kingpin who pleaded guilty in 2008 to major federal drug conspiracy and trafficking charges was sentenced Friday to 19 years in prison.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana, 35-year-old Eric Alexander of Lafayette pleaded guilty in 2008 to a slew of drug trafficking and conspiracy charges, among them conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering:
The investigation revealed that Alexander received hundreds of pounds of marijuana and between 5 to 40 kilograms of cocaine per month from his sources of supply in Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for distribution into Acadiana. A large portion of the cocaine received was converted into “crack” and distributed in the Lafayette -New Iberia area.
Alexander’s drug trafficking organization used a variety of couriers to receive and transport the controlled substances to end-line distributors in Acadiana. In order to conceal the narcotics, Alexander used a local after-market automobile store, B&M Auto Sound and 4x4, to construct secret compartments in vehicles used by his organization when transporting the drugs.
Alexander’s case has led to the convictions of 16 others who have pleaded guilty to various levels of involvement in the drug ring. One of Alexander’s co-conspirators, Antonio Luna Valdez Jr. of Weslaco, Texas, was found guilty of drug trafficking in February following a nine-day trial, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
But notably absent from the release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Mike Wyatt, the owner of B&M Auto Sound and 4x4 in Lafayette who was formally charged in 2006 with more than a dozen others as a co-conspirator in Alexander’s drug trafficking case — despite having never been accused of possessing or trafficking drugs.
As The Independent reported in its July 2011 cover story, “CONVICTed,” the government accused Wyatt of installing secret compartments in the vehicles of Alexander and his couriers — compartments that are legal to own and install under federal and state law — that Wyatt, according to the feds, knew were being used to transport drugs. But the only evidence the government had to support the accusation came directly from the mouth of Alexander, who offered damning testimony against Wyatt in exchange for a potential reduction in his prison sentence.
Alexander’s testimony against Wyatt was eventually proven false, but the lying kingpin did not deter the government, specifically Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Grayson, from pursuing federal drug conspiracy charges against Wyatt for roughly five years. On Sept. 13, 2011, five years into Wyatt’s fight to avoid 10-plus years in prison and up to $4 million in fines, the government accepted Wyatt into a federal pre-trial diversion program and subsequently “agreed to dispose of Wyatt’s charges,” according to court documents. The details of the pre-trial diversion agreement are not disclosed in court documents.
Read more on Wyatt, Alexander and the feds here.