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Woman who muled heroin on planes sentenced to 5 years

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — CASSANDRA BATISTE, age 41, a resident of Houston, Texas, was sentenced today by the Honorable Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. to sixty (60) months in prison for her role in a large scale drug trafficking conspiracy. Additionally, Judge Duvall ordered that BATISTE be placed on three (3) years of supervised release following the term of imprisonment, during which time the defendant will be under federal supervision and risks an additional term of imprisonment should she violate any terms of her supervised release.

BATISTE pleaded guilty on February 2, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin and 500 grams or more of cocaine hydrochloride in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The conspiracy, which existed on or before January 2009 and continued until on or about December 17, 2009, involved heroin trafficking activities of WILLIAM STEVENSON and multiple retail distributors he supplied with bundles of heroin for distribution to addicts in B. W. Cooper Housing Development on a daily basis.

BATISTE was a mule for STEVENSON’s supplier, LANDRY GRANDISON, also a resident of Houston, Texas who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to 216 months imprisonment. BATISTE and her partner, co–defendant TROY POCHE would travel to and from Houston and New Orleans on commercial airline flights with the money and heroin to facilitate the conspiracy. POCHE received a sentence of 87 months last year.

The case was investigated by DEA in collaboration with the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force (HIDTA) and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

The HIDTA Task Force is led by DEA and includes a team of dedicated investigators from the New Orleans Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. OCDETF is an important program which targets the most significant drug trafficking organizations within the United States, as well as those outside of the United States borders that impact drug trafficking within the United States. Also assisting in the enforcement operations were the Louisiana State Police, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, Kenner Police Department, and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, the United States Internal Revenue Service, and the Department for Housing and Urban Development–OIG.

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