GULFPORT, Miss. — Nine individuals are facing federal charges involving conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, namely methamphetamine, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN), the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and the Hancock County Sheriff's Office in Mississippi.
On April 12, special agents arrested Glenn Michael Bonano Sr., 50, Glenn Michael Bonano Jr., 24, and Trevor Aron Cook, 21, all residents of Waveland, Miss.; Gavin Miles Meranto, 23, and Vincent Joseph LeBlanc III, 28, both residents of Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Cameron Scott McLaurin, 32, a resident of Kiln, Miss.; and Nicholas Joseph Shiyou, 27, a resident of Saucier, Miss. Billy Paul Lee, 35, a resident of Carriere, Miss. was arrested April 13; and John Fatu Andersen, 39, a resident of Wichita, Kan., was arrested March 29 in Wichita. All nine individuals were charged with conspiracy. Bonano Jr., Meranto, Cook and Andersen also face charges for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans acknowledged the outstanding collaborative efforts of the agencies involved, particularly the members of the Gulf Coast Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST). "Leveraging the combined investigative experience of our domestic and international law enforcement partners helps HSI more effectively address the criminal activity that could undermine and threaten our communities." Parmer is responsible for HSI investigations in Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama.
In response to the dramatic surge in cross-border crime and violence, due to intense competition between Mexican drug cartels and transnational criminal smuggling organizations, ICE has partnered with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement counterparts to create a series of multi-agency BEST teams developed to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations posing significant threats to border security. Currently, there are 30 BEST teams with locations around the U.S and in Mexico, including the Gulf Coast BEST, which reports to the HSI special agent in charge in New Orleans.
All nine individuals have made their initial appearances in federal court. They are being prosecuted by the U.S. States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.
For more information, visit www.ice.gov.