Audit underway after 22 kilograms of cocaine are stolen from parish evidence vault
POSTED: Monday, December 17, 2012 - 6:45pm
UPDATED: Monday, December 17, 2012 - 7:03pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Officials across East Baton Rouge parish are taking a hard look at who has access to their evidence vaults. The announcement came just days after the arrest of two clerk of court employees for allegedly stealing 22 kilograms of cocaine.
An affidavit, obtained Friday by NBC33, stated that William Bates Colvin, 30, was entrusted with a key to the evidence vault back in October 2012. He confessed to taking 7 kilograms of cocaine from the vault and involving his girlfriend, Debra Bell, 55, who is also an employee at the Clerk of Court’s Office.
District Attorney Hillar Moore said the entire system could soon undergo an overhaul thanks to the security breach. He said there's no doubt in his mind there is room for improvement, and an audit is currently underway to find ways to improve the evidence system.
"We've met with representatives from the clerk of courts. All the different law enforcement people, the clerk of courts office in Orleans, looked around the country to see how other evidence rooms operate so we can do a better job in our evidence room," Moore explained.
The evidence room at the 19th Judicial Court has also been preserved and more security measures put in to place. Moore said he would like to see a bar code system implemented at the 19th Judicial Court evidence vault, but admitted any improvement like that would take quite a bit of money.
Those at Monday’s press conference weren't able to comment about the clerk of courts hiring process, including background checks. They also weren’t able to explain if Colvin or Bell had any red flags on their records. Moore said only a very small handful of people have access to evidence vaults, possibly no more than four at a time.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White said in Monday’s re-iterated in Monday’s press conference that the case involves, “cocaine that the Baton Rouge Police Department took off the streets of Baton Rouge, that have now made its way back on the streets,” said Chief White.
Bell also stated in the affidavit that she had recruited her son, Colt Bell, to sell the narcotics. He, along with accomplice Terrance Ramirez, allegedly sold the cocaine in small amounts, and gave money from its profit to Debra Bell. Reports also note that Ramirez and Colt Bell contacted Colvin and used tactics of extortion to force him into stealing more drugs from the evidence vault. Bell claims Colvin paid them $5,000 each in exchange for their silence.
The affidavit also implicates Deroy Joseph for distribution of the stolen drugs. Colvin allegedly sold 3.5 kilograms of cocaine to Joseph for $5,000, which he then redistributed in amounts totaling $40,000. However, Joseph claims that he was robbed by other drug dealers of that money and was unable to give it to Colvin, which was part of their original arrangement.
Officials said this investigation is ongoing and there could be more arrests to come.