Former Vidor teacher indicted on drug charges with five others

Former Vidor teacher indicted on drug charges with five others

The Vidor community and school district administrators were shocked when high school business teacher Lauren Leigh Courmier was arrested with more than 9 ounces of methamphetamine in November 2015, Vidor Independent School District (VISD) Superintendent Jay Killgo told The Examiner last year. Even more shocking, she was arrested on the same charge — possession of a controlled substance — months later in March 2016.

Now, Courmier is facing charges for her alleged role in a drug distribution ring after a federal indictment filed April 6 named the former educator and five Orange County residents accused of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine in the Eastern District of Texas.

It all started Nov. 16, 2015. Narcotics investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) and the Orange Police Department (OPD) were stationed along Interstate 10 eastbound in Orange County near Vidor at about 7:30 p.m. looking for signs of drug trafficking when they spotted a black Dodge Charger with a Louisiana license plate commit a series of traffic violations. Detectives stopped the car near I-10 and FM 105. As OCSO Lt. Robert Strause approached the vehicle, he saw the female driver apparently attempting to conceal several plastic bags containing a clear crystalline substance, shoving them down into her purse, DEA Agent L. Michel Ledford reported in the criminal complaint filed against Courmier. Upon questioning the woman, a Vinton, Louisiana resident, she reportedly admitted to possessing the illegal drugs and was arrested. Detectives discovered approximately 238 grams of methamphetamine, later tested to reveal a purity of 92.9 percent. She was identified as Courmier, a Vidor High School teacher. In addition to the meth, she was found to be in possession of about 3.7 grams of cocaine, which was “secreted in her clothing,” according to the criminal complaint.

Courmier was transported to the Orange County Correctional Facility where she was booked for possession of a controlled substance, a first-degree felony. She was arraigned by District Judge Courtney Arkeen the following morning, and bond was set at $300,000. It was later reduced to $50,000, and Courmier was released after posting bond. She was also fired by VISD.

Courmier wasn’t out of jail for long, though. March 8, less than four months after her first arrest, she was busted again and back behind bars.

According to police Capt. Robert Enmon, OPD officers and Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped Courmier when she reportedly failed to maintain a single lane of traffic while traveling near Adams Bayou and MLK in Orange. Investigators said they observed Courmier acting nervous, making movements around the cab of the vehicle. A subsequent search revealed approximately 25 grams of meth in her possession. She was charged with second-degree felony possession of a controlled substance, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

After the March 8 arrest, Courmier again faced Judge Arkeen in Orange County. March 9, Arkeen set her bond at $100,000 on the new charges and added in the $300,000 bond from Courmier’s old charges, making her total bond $400,000.

Courmier is now being held in federal custody, outside the general population according to an order of detention.

Broader conspiracy

Even before Courmier’s November 2015 arrest, DEA agents and local narcotics investigators were keeping a watchful eye on an Orange County family after receiving information leading them to suspect the group was running a methamphetamine distribution ring.

DEA agents and officers with OCSO and OPD descended upon an Orange residence at 3310 Pine Ridge Feb. 18 to execute a search warrant and two arrest warrants. Gary Dean Martin, 55, and Laurie Lee Revis, 43, were both arrested at the residence for distribution of methamphetamine warrants issued by the United States Attorney’s Office out of the Eastern District of Texas as the result of an undercover operation. Also arrested for the same charge at a separate location was 23-year-old Britni Danae Martin.

According to Agent Ledford’s criminal complaint against the Martin family of Orange, he began investigating drug trafficking activities of what he dubbed the “Brandon Martin Drug Trafficking Organization” on Sept. 20, 2015. Sgt. Trent Hanson of the Sulphur Police Department in Sulphur, Louisiana, joined the investigation in an undercover capacity during the five-month investigation that followed, allegedly making contact with Brandon Martin, Kenneth Martin Jr., Laurie Lee Revis, Gary Dean Martin and Britni Danae Martin, the five other parties named in the April 6 indictment with Courmier, related to purchasing large amounts of methamphetamine on multiple occasions.

Count One of the indictment accuses the six named individuals of conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance, stating they “did intentionally and knowingly conspire, combine, confederate and agree together, with each other, and with other persons known and unknown to the grand jury, to possess with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance, to wit: 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.”

Count Two names only Courmier and references her Nov. 16, 2015 arrest, charging her with a second count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, “50 grams of more of methamphetamine.”

Each count holds a penalty of no less than 10 years and no more than life in prison, a fine up to $10 million, and a term of supervised release of at least five years following the prison term upon conviction. In addition, the Martin family could have to forfeit their Pine Ridge property in Orange.

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.