By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
A doctor’s office on East Canal Street has been closed by the Drug Enforcement Agency and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics for allegedly operating illegally.
Tactical Diversion Squad Public Information Officer Terry Davis said the result of Tuesday’s operation led to the doctor of the establishment, 73-year-old Dr. William F. Yost of Slidell, La., surrendering his medical license. Davis said an investigation is continuing into any criminal charges that may or may not be filed against the doctor.
“Pharmaceutical drugs are the new crack cocaine of our time. The collaborative law enforcement efforts of the DEA Tactical Diversion Squads of Jackson and New Orleans, Picayune Police Department, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure, and the Slidell Police Department have sent an undeniable message to those who wish to operate and participate in the illegal possession and distribution of pharmaceutical drugs in the greater Picayune area: your illegal activities are no longer welcomed here. The men and women of DEA remain steadfast to the citizens of Picayune and in our commitment to this endeavor,” said Drug Enforcement Administration New Orleans Field Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Joseph W. Shepherd in an e-mail statement.
During that operation, Jeremy Magri, Picayune Police Assistant to the Chief of Police, said local officers and investigators assisted the state and federal agencies with manpower and were able to conduct a few arrests.
While at the business, located at 2202 East Canal St., Magri said a number of patients at the business were found to be in violation of the law.
One instance occurred when officers observed a man, 41-year-old Keith Ledoux of 14095 Konhke Hill Rd., Hammond, La., sleeping in a vehicle. Magri said officers asked the man to get out of his vehicle so they could speak with him and as he did so, Ledoux appeared nervous and impaired, prompting a search of his vehicle. Magri said inside the vehicle officers found prescription medication for which the man had no prescription and a bag of cocaine. Ledoux was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and two counts of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, Magri said.
Later, a vehicle driven by 38-year-old Douglas Leroy Culpepper of 1104 Blackwell Lane pulled up to the business, with a passenger identified as 38-year-old Suzanna Lee also of 1104 Blackwell Lane. Culpepper was found to be without a driver’s license and was charged with the misdemeanor crime, but Lee had Oxycodone pills on her without a prescription, leading her to be charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, Magri said.
Another vehicle pulled up to the business during the operation where officers came into contact with the driver, 47-year-old Steven Jones of 20203 Pineville Rd., Long Beach, and his passenger, 35-year-old Celina Necaise of 17245 Rd., 504 Kiln. Interviews with and investigation of the two found that Necaise had given Jones some Hydrocodone pills, found during a search of Jones’ person, in exchange for a ride to the doctor’s office. Jones was charged with possession of a controlled substance while Necaise was charged with transfer a controlled substance. A search of her person found more prescription pills in her possession, leading to an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance.
Chief Bryan Dawsey said his department has been working with the DEA and MBN since the business opened, and with this bust he is confident the flow of narcotic prescription medication will slow throughout Picayune.
“I would like to thank the officers with the DEA and MBN,” Dawsey said.
Magri said the announcement of Pearl River County having a total of 19 overdose deaths last year due to the abuse of prescription drugs, as well as other drugs, shows law enforcement closing the business will help save lives.
“We want to do our part to prevent that from occurring,” Magri said.