JUNE 28 (FORT SMITH, Ark.) - Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, and William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, announced that 17 defendants were sentenced to a combined 113 years and 11 months in federal prison for drug-trafficking and firearms charges brought as a result of Operation Great Scott, an investigation that targeted a drug-trafficking organization centered in Waldron, Arkansas. The majority of the defendants were originally charged on August 22, 2012, in a 17-defendant, 53-count indictment. The Honorable P. K. Holmes III, United States District Judge, handed down the sentences in Fort Smith.
United States Attorney Eldridge and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bryant commented, “The team effort of all federal, state, and local agencies led to the dismantling of a major drug trafficking organization based in Scott County and operating throughout Western Arkansas. We would be remiss not to mention the outstanding contributions in this investigation by Scott County Sheriff Cody Carpenter and Arkansas Game and Fish Wildlife Officer Joel Campora. These two outstanding law enforcement officers were dedicated to making their community a safer place. The efforts of these fallen heroes led to the dismantlement of this major drug-trafficking organization. We will continue our efforts in communities across the Western District to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe from drug trafficking, criminal activity, and violence.”
According to information previously filed and discussed in court, Operation Great Scott included over 40 controlled purchases of methamphetamine from members of the drug-trafficking organization. In several cases, individuals under age 18 were used to distribute drugs. During the case, one of the members of the organization, Miguel Paramo, was placed under surveillance as he left Waldron and drove to Irving, Texas, to pick up a large amount of methamphetamine. After Paramo was stopped in Dallas due to his involvement in a minor motor-vehicle accident, officers arrested him for misdemeanor offenses. A search of his truck revealed approximately four pounds of methamphetamine, which Paramo had intended to transport back to Waldron and distribute to other members of the organization. Also during the case, agents from DEA and the Department of Homeland Security executed a search warrant of a “stash” house used by the organization and a residence owned by another member of the organization, Lee Roy Garcia. During these searches, agents recovered approximately six additional pounds of methamphetamine and eight firearms.
The defendants were sentenced as follows:
Gilberto Avila, 29, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to five months in prison and five months home detention for using a communication facility to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.
Sandra Payne, 42, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for using a communication facility to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.
Armando Arce, 57, of Mena Arkansas, was sentenced to 57 months in prison for receiving and possessing a short barreled shotgun with an obliterated serial number in violation of the National Firearms Acts.
Juan Vasquez, 33, of Heavener, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.
Javier Villareal, 37, of Hunnington, Arkansas, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine.
Daniel Cruz, 20, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for distributing 8.2 grams of methamphetamine.
Daniel Valdez, 28, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for distributing 2.8 grams of methamphetamine.
Miguel Paramo, 31, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to 210 months in prison for possessing, with the intent to distribute, 200.4 grams of methamphetamine.
Benjamin Chronister, 30, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine.
Fernando Perez, 24, of Mexico was sentenced to 60 months in prison for distributing 12.8 grams of methamphetamine.
Jamie Villareal, 29, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to 63 months in prison for aiding and abetting the distribution of 20.4 grams of methamphetamine.
Cody Pittman, 29, of Irving, Texas, was sentenced to 168 months in prison for conspiring to distribute 585.4 grams of methamphetamine.
Michael Thompson, 31, of Hatfield, Arkansas, was sentenced to 78 months in prison for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. He was originally indicted on October 11, 2012.
Christian Bonilla, 30, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for distributing 3.38 grams of methamphetamine.
Lee Roy Garcia, 24, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to 300 months in prison for aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine and being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm.
Amadeo Cardenas, 34, of Waldron, Arkansas, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for distributing 1.16 grams of methamphetamine.
Juan Garcia, 37, of Cherokee, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 84 months in prison for aiding and abetting the distribution of 3.25 grams of methamphetamine.
*Carlton Mathews, 27, of Waldron, Arkansas, who was involved in this case and pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, has yet to be sentenced. Mathews faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $2,000,000 fine.
Operation Great Scott was a joint operation between the Drug Enforcement Administration; Department of Homeland Security; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force; Arkansas State Police; Fort Smith Police Department; Scott County Sheriff’s Office; and other local agencies. Assistant United States Attorneys Clay Fowlkes, Candace Taylor, and Brandon Carter are prosecuting the cases for the United States.