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Man pleads guilty to operating massive drug ring out of lavish home on University Lake
BATON ROUGE – A man who led a prolific drug ring out of a mansion around the LSU lakes pleaded guilty Thursday to several drug and gun crimes.
In a news release, U.S. Attorney Ronald Gathe Jr. said that Francisco Palma, 43, admitted to buying cocaine from Mexico and selling it in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and other cities.
He pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, unlawful travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise, unlawful use of communications facilities, and money laundering.
Agents seized more than $250,000 in illegal drug proceeds, luxury vehicles, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, and thirteen firearms during the investigation.
Much of that was kept inside a home, which has since been demolished, on East Lakeshore Drive.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars were stashed in vents and hidden inside of columns. Guns of all shapes and sizes were placed through the home, all in an effort to protect the cash.
That money was collected over several years as Palma and his associates ran the drug ring that operated from the home.
According to the indictment, which was filed last October, Palma used $11,000 in drug money as a down payment on a Rolls Royce.
In 2014, film crews also shot a scene for "Pitch Perfect 2" at the house, though it appears there was no sign of criminal activity there at that time. Ownership of the property changed hands in December 2014 and again in 2020, after the bust.
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