Archive: Crack house one of first in area; ran by BR man whose sentence was commuted today
BATON ROUGE - Sitting beneath a skinny pine and healthy oak Wednesday afternoon was a sleepy, unassuming home that upon further inspection has a busy, illegal past.
The notion of the previous activity that once unfolded under the roof was only dusted off because of a prisoner's shortened sentence. Wednesday morning, the White House announced President Barack Obama commuted the prison sentences of 61 people serving time for drug-related offenses. Among the three from Louisiana was John E. Milton III, known as "Boo" Milton in the 1990s. Boo, Advocate archives show, ran one of the city's first crack cocaine operations.
Reporter Peter Shinkle wrote drug traffickers anchored burglar bars to building frames, making the house its own safe against other drug runners who wanted to steal the cocaine inside and from authorities who were there to bust the operation. The thought was, as authorities toyed with dismantling the burglar bars, those inside had time to destroy drugs and other evidence of an illegal operation and perhaps run away.
Milton was believed to be the ringleader of the operation that supplied drugs to other drug distributors in Baton Rouge between 1992 and 1996. By 1996, though, prosecutors had locked up 18 people associated with the organization.
Associates told authorities they would transport 50 to nearly 200 pounds of cocaine to the house at 1754 Wisteria Street and cook it in a microwave, making crack. One person admitted to making millions of dollars from sales and drug runs.
Milton surrendered in August 1996 and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. When his sentence was commuted Wednesday, he was at a federal prison in Talladega, Alabama. He could be released by July 28.
Milton's family manages an online petition, that until Wednesday, had been seeking for his release from custody. The family reports Milton obtained a bachelor's degree in Christian education, a master's in counseling and is currently working on a Ph. D. in counseling through Christian Bible College and Seminary School.
Then-U.S. Attorney L.J. Hymel and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Piedrahita worked the case. Hymel is retired and now practices law privately. Piedrahita still works as an assistant U.S. attorney.
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