BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Cocaine once stored as evidence in East Baton Rouge Parish is back on the streets.
Investigators believe two people who worked for the Clerk of Court's office including the son of State District Judge Kay Bates are responsible.
Local, state, and federal investigators believe William Bates Colvin, 30, and Debra Bell, 55, both employed by the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court are behind the disappearance of 48 pounds of cocaine that went missing from the evidence vault.
Nineteenth Judicial District Attorney Hillar Moore said Colvin, a longtime employee with the Clerk's office, had a key to the vault.
"People believe the safeguards were in place obviously it could have been better, been different we'll learn from this," Moore said.
Baton Rouge Police investigators said Colvin and Bell recruited people including Bell's son Colt, Joseph Deroy, and Terrance Ramirez to distribute some of the missing cocaine. Police Chief Dewayne White said it is unlikely detectives will ever recover the drugs.
'There's no way of us actually being able to track the dope that was stolen from the vault and placed back on the street," White said.
The district attorney said the missing cocaine, which had a $210,000 street value, was evidence in a case that has already gone through the appeals process.
While the theft has not compromised it or any other cases, parish leaders are already researching new ways to collect and store evidence.
"We will hopefully get to a barcode system, everyone uses the same barcodes. So if a police officer gets evidence from the street he puts it in a bag there's a barcode on the bag, it's scanned in and that same scan can be used later on in court," Moore explained.
But that system could take time to set up and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For now, Moore said, the evidence is under a new security system equipped with two keys and surveillance cameras.