Police are searching for the leader of a local drug trafficking organization who they believe ordered multiple killings in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Martrell Harris, 42, of Spring, Texas, has been investigated by several federal and state law enforcement agencies for more than a decade, according to police. He leads an organization of “extremely violent” large-scale narcotics traffickers, officials said.
The organization he heads is believed to be responsible for a number of drug-related homicides in the Baton Rouge area, including the highly-publicized death of rapper Lorenzo Dixon, who went by the name Zoe Realla.
Witnesses told police that masked assailants drove onto the 4100 block of Winbourne Avenue outside of Yo Way Audio around 2 p.m. on April 22, 2017. There, they fired on 32-year-old Dixon, critically wounding him. Days later, Dixon died from his injuries at a local hospital.
Detectives said Dixon had been sitting in the driver’s seat of a white Honda Accord when he was initially shot multiple times. After he was hit, Dixon scrambled onto the pavement, where his assailants fired again at him several times at close range. The two shooters departed in a getaway car driven by a third member of the drug organization.
A witness who claimed they heard confessions from those involved told police Harris had ordered two men to kill Dixon, according to the arrest warrant. Harris also ordered them to kill a man named Jornell Keelen, who was present at the time of the shooting, but uninjured. Keelen was later convicted in 2018 on federal drug trafficking charges.
While Harris paid one of the hit-men, Dexter Collins, $2,000 and two ounces of heroin for the slaying, other participants were promised promotions in the drug organization for their part in the crime, documents say.
Harris is wanted on a count of first-degree murder.
An affidavit also says that, months later, Harris ordered the September 2017 killing of 68-year-old David Walker after Walker witnessed a double homicide earlier the same day. The hit-man, Collins, also shot Walker, the affidavit says. Collins was arrested earlier this month.
A witness told police Walker had been killed because he had knowledge about who was involved in the double slaying. One of the men he saw get shot was “involved in large-scale narcotics trafficking” with Harris, according to an arrest warrant filed almost two years after Walker was killed.
Walker’s shooting took place barely a mile from where Dixon was fatally wounded months before. It is unclear if Harris was responsible for ordering the double-slaying the same day as Walker’s murder.
Harris’ criminal record shows multiple drug arrests in East Baton Rouge Parish since the late 1990s, with few convictions and relatively short sentences.
More recently, in 2016, Harris was pulled over for a traffic stop in Beaumont, Texas. Authorities discovered a firearm on the floor of the backseat with a high-capacity magazine containing 32 rounds. He was indicted in 2017 in the Eastern District of Texas on federal firearm charges. The case remains open.