The FBI raided the offices of the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office and the Hammond Police Department on Thursday, seizing computers, cellphones and case files in simultaneous searches stemming from a broadening U.S. Justice Department investigation of a federal drug task force.
The daylong raids closed down two government buildings in Hammond as agents conducted interviews and carried out at least two search warrants related to a nearly year-old inquiry into a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force accused of stealing cash from drug dealers, selling confiscated narcotics and tampering with witnesses.
Two former members of the New Orleans-based task force — both of whom worked for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office — are facing federal charges, and one pleaded guilty earlier this year to state drug conspiracy charges.
Thursday's searches marked an escalation of the misconduct investigation, which has been steeped in secrecy for months as investigators dug into the background of several task force members, including Chad Scott, a longtime DEA agent who has been suspended indefinitely and stripped of his badge.
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Non-essential personnel were sent home, law enforcement sources said, and visitors were steered away from the Sheriff's Office and Police Department buildings.
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