FOX 8 received this news release from the St. Bernard Sheriff's Office Friday:
In an unusual case for narcotics agents in Chalmette, 10.4 pounds of marijuana worth $22,000 was seized at the home of a Chalmette couple believed to be part of a larger operation, with the man admitting he had 22 pounds of marijuana a week ago, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
Brandon Celestain, 25, and Sanaa Halum, 31, were arrested after a search warrant was executed at 2521 Jackson Blvd. Chalmette, on Monday night, March 4.
Besides the marijuana, also seized was about one gram of heroin, several strips and pills of a heroin-like prescription drug called Suboxone, a loaded 40-caliber handgun with obliterated serial numbers, $7,800 cash and several scales and plastic bags for drug-dealing.
Sheriff Pohlmann said agents of the Special Investigations Division, commanded by Maj. Chad Clark, obtained the information which led to a judge issuing a search warrant. The arrests were announced Friday.
He said it was the largest seizure of marijuana in St. Bernard in some time..
"This is good police work leading to the arrest of a major marijuana distributor,'' and a woman who has lived with him for years and also was dealing drugs, Sheriff Pohlmann said. "The bottom line is if you deal drugs in St. Bernard you will be caught.''
"The two individuals were part of an ongoing undercover narcotics investigation that started in early January,'' the sheriff said. "The two were known for dealing marijuana, prescription medication and heroin.'
Clark said of the case, "What made us sick was these drug-dealing scum bags had the nerve to hide the 10 pounds of marijuana in a suitcase under their children's bed. Also, they had a loaded gun in the closet in the same kids' room.'' The children were two young boys and an older girl.
Clark also said the recovered gun had notches on it, which in street parlance could mean the weapon has been used that number of times to shoot people. The Sheriff's Office will consult with other agencies to try to determine if the gun is tied to shootings.
"It's a sad situation'' involving the children of the couple, who have young twin boys together and an older girl who is the woman's daughter, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
"Where does this leave the kids who are oblivious to what went on?'' the sheriff said. "These people made bad decisions to be drug-dealing and also put their children at risk by having the drugs around the children and leaving a loaded gun in the closet in their room.""
During questioning after their arrest, Celestain said all the marijuana found belonged to him and said he had 22 pounds of the drug there a week earlier, Sheriff Pohlmann said. Neither suspect claimed the heroin or Suboxone.
Celestain has a previous felony conviction in his background, the sheriff said. He was arrested with a large amount of crack cocaine about 5 years go in St. Bernard Parish and served time in prison.
Using phone numbers recovered, the investigation will continue into who supplied the marijuana to Celestain and who were the buyers, authorities said.
Both Celestain and Halum were booked with: possession with intent to distribute marijuana, heroin and Suboxone, possession of a firearm with obliterated markings, possession of controlled dangerous substances in the presence of juveniles, child endangerment and possession of firearms while in possession of controlled, dangerous substances.
Celestain was also booked with being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm and Halum was booked on warrants of arrest issued March 4 alleging distribution of marijuana and distribution of Suboxone.
Both are being held in lieu of bond in St. Bernard Parish Prison. His bond is $750,000 and her bond is $500,000.