BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office arrested three men in Seattle and two in Baton Rouge after a fatal drug deal last year.
According to EBRSO, deputies responded to a shooting at the Willowbend Lake Apartments around 9 p.m. on Nov. 23, 2022. Upon arrival, deputies found Christopher Bennett-Smith, 29, dead outside of the apartment. Two other men were taken to a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
After further investigation, deputies discovered three suspects, Cerion Hardeman, 23, Juan Soto, 23, and Matthew Fatuesi, 22, traveled from Washington with possession of marijuana to perform a drug transaction. Three men, Bennett-Smith and two others allegedly tried to rob the three suspects of the drugs. Both groups began shooting when Bennett-Smith was shot and died on the scene. Detectives also found 30 pounds of suspected marijuana, $7,500 and several handguns.
During the shootout, detectives say Soto was hit but returned to Seattle without seeking medical attention. Once Soto was in police custody, he was taken to a local hospital to have his injuries treated.
“I’m so proud of the hard work by our detectives and the support of our state and federal task forces to apprehend these suspects,” Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said. “Once in Seattle, it took them less than 24 hours to locate and apprehend these individuals. I am grateful for their commitment and their dedicated service.”
Cerion Hardeman, Juan Soto, and Matthew Fatuesi were all charged with first-degree murder, possession/distribution manufacturing of Schedule I, illegal carrying of a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The two men who were taken from the scene, Christopher Bourgeois, 24, and Travis Foster, 32, were arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder. Zavier Wallace, 23, was arrested in Breaux Bridge and booked into the St. Martin Parish Jail for possession of a firearm with a controlled dangerous substance and distribution of schedule I drug. Wallace allegedly supplied the apartment for the transaction, police say.