Witness in Deville Case Describes Drug Odor 

Witness in Deville Case Describes Drug Odor 
Posted by FoM on February 12, 2000 at 09:19:18 PT
By Kevin Blanchard, Acadiana Bureau 
Source: The Advocate Online
 A government informant in the drug conspiracy case against a former Duson police chief testified Friday that the smell of marijuana wafted from a duffel bag inside the chief's truck after the chief picked up the bag in Houston. Mack Keeton said he doubted former Police Chief Tom Deville had made the alleged Nov. 17, 1998, drug-run. 
"I'll betcha $200 there's no marijuana in that truck," Keeton said to the dealer who was supposed to receive the load, Lanier "Pop" Cherry, a friend of Deville's. But after catching a whiff of the pungent odor from outside a rolled-up window, Keeton said he welshed. Fourteen others indicted in the case have pleaded guilty in the multi-agency investigation dubbed "Sweet Dixie." Deville faces federal counts of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, interstate travel in aid of a racketeering crime and carrying a gun during a drug crime. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted. Deville's attorney, Daniel Stanford, has said Deville did not know he was picking up marijuana for Cherry. Cherry -- a horse trainer for many years -- told Deville the package would be horse supplies, Stanford said. Keeton admitted to injecting methamphetamines during his trip from San Antonio to visit Cherry. "I was pretty wired up," he told prosecutor Joe Mickel. Since he never saw the marijuana, Keeton said he took Cherry's word the bag contained marijuana. "You consider Mr. Cherry a honorable and trustworthy person, right?" Stanford asked. "Among thieves he is," Keeton replied. Keeton, a friend and Cherry had dropped by Deville's house to look at a horse trailer the night Deville returned from Houston. Keeton -- a confidential informant -- testified that he had only a brief conversation with Deville, who talked about the trouble getting in touch with his Houston contact -- Avel "Fat Boy" Garcia. "I'd like to never wake that fat Mexican. He never answered his phone," Keeton said Deville told him. But under cross-examination from Stanford, Keeton changed his story a bit, insisting Deville knew he'd picked up marijuana. "He said, 'I'd like to never wake the fat Mexican up to get the load,'" Keeton said testily to Stanford. "Now what's a load." Garcia testified the load was 90 pounds of marijuana, packaged tight and placed in the red duffel bag and two boxes. He said he met Deville at a Houston hotel, then drove with him in Deville's pickup truck to a house. Garcia said he was worried at first because Deville was a former police officer. But he seemed cordial and pleasant. "(Deville) said he was a person who could be trusted," Garcia said. "I said I'd always been on the other side of the law." Garcia said Deville was wearing a D.A.R.E. T-shirt during the trip, Garcia said. "We kind of joked around about it," Garcia said. "He looked like he was being kind of bold wearing that T-shirt and doing what he was doing." Garcia said he never saw Deville with a gun -- one of the counts Deville is charged with. He also said the word "marijuana" was not spoken that day. Friday in court was the next time the men saw each other. Stanford asked why Garcia would front 90 pounds of marijuana to Cherry -- who Garcia admitted owed him $130,000. Mickel asked Garcia if Cherry was secretive or open about his business dealings. "He was very open about it," Garcia deadpanned. "It's one of the reasons we're here." Garcia pleaded guilty to smuggling and use of a telephone to further drug crimes as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors who dropped the charge of conspiracy. Garcia faces a maximum of nine years on his current charges compared to a maximum life sentence on the conspiracy charge. Stanford's questioning about dates, drug amounts and the fact that Garcia did not initially mention Deville to investigators frustrated Garcia. "I'm sitting here because they brought this up against me," he retorted when Stanford asked again if he was telling the truth about one issue. "(Cherry) told me not to worry about anything and your client did too," Garcia told Stanford. "Do you blame Cherry?" Stanford asked." "And you're client," Garcia answered. Another man who pleaded guilty in the indictments, David Bertrand, said he was surprised by what he saw when he went by Cherry's house to buy marijuana one night in the summer of 1998. He testified that he saw Cherry getting the marijuana ready to package at the kitchen table while Deville stood nearby. "I remember that because it was a weird feeling with the chief standing there," Bertrand said. Stanford tried to damage Bertrand's credibility by pointing out that Bertrand never told investigators about his seeing Deville until the trial began. Bertrand also admitted that he perjured himself once in district court in St. Landry Parish by falsifying records to provide an alibi for a friend's brother. "You're up here testifying to help yourself now, right?" Stanford asked. "No sir, I have nothing to gain," Bertrand replied. "the worst thing I could do now is perjure myself." Cherry is not on the list of witnesses. The trial is expected to finish up next week. LafayettePublished: February 12, 2000 Copyright  2000, The Advocate, Capital City PressRelated Articles:Witness: Chief Asked for Drug Run Ex-Chief Not Drug Runner 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: