By ROY PITCHFORD
PLAQUEMINE -- Law-enforcement officers arrested the commander of the area's Law Enforcement Against Drugs Narcotics Task Force on accusations he was involved in a burglary and attempted arson at task force headquarters.
Lt. Gerald Jenkins, task force commander and a 20-year sheriff's deputy, was booked with malfeasance in office, obstruction of justice, burglary, theft, attempted arson, attempted arson with intent to defraud, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and placing combustible material in a structure.
Authorities also arrested Joseph Jenkins, 8832 Loredo St., Baton Rouge, a cousin of the commander. Deputies booked Joseph Jenkins with burglary, attempted arson, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm with narcotics and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
Iberville Parish Sheriff Brent Allain and Plaquemine Police Chief Orian Gulotta reported that early Monday morning, LEAD Task Force headquarters was broken into. Cash, narcotics and a gun had been stolen, and an attempt had been made to set the building on fire.
The burglary was discovered about 4 a.m. Investigation revealed that entry had been gained through a window. Officers found that interior doors were broken into, a large amount of gasoline had been poured throughout the offices, and several items had been stolen or vandalized.
Deputies and city police began searching the area.
Allain and Gullotta said that a Sheriff's Office administrator responding to the investigation saw two vehicles leave a secluded area near the task force headquarters.
Deputies who stopped the vehicles found Joseph Jenkins in one of them. They said that Joseph Jenkins, a convicted felon, was wet and muddy, was sweating profusely and had a 9 mm handgun. They said he had items that linked him to the break-in.
Officers said the other car was driven by a relative of Joseph Jenkins. They said they determined that person had been called to the area by Joseph Jenkins and was not involved in the burglary.
Officers said that when further investigation revealed that Joseph Jenkins was assisted in the break-in by Lt. Gerald Jenkins, the Louisiana Department of Justice was notified. The veteran law-enforcement officer was booked, and he and evidence were turned over to the state Attorney General's Office.
Officers said an investigation into the case continues by the criminal division of the state Attorney General's Office, city police and the Sheriff's Office. They said there are no other suspects at this time.