MAY 29 (FORT SMITH, Ark.) – Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Keith Brown and United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, Conner Eldridge announced that eleven individuals have been sentenced to a combined total of over 93 years in prison for drug-trafficking offenses stemming from an investigation known as “Operation Shaw-Crank Redemption,” a large-scale drug-trafficking organization active in the Fort Smith area. The defendants were originally charged in indictments returned by a federal grand jury on June 4, 2013. The Honorable P. K. Holmes III, United States District Judge, handed down the sentences in Fort Smith.
U. S. Attorney Eldridge stated, “The sentences handed down in this case, represent significant prison time for large-scale drug-traffickers that brought methamphetamine and crime onto our streets. We must do all we can to keep children in our community safe from drugs and other illegal activity. I thank the dedicated members of local, state, and federal law enforcement who have worked together to make certain that these defendants were brought to justice. Our office remains committed to seeing that each and every defendant involved in this case is held responsible for his or her criminal conduct.”
Beginning in August of 2012, law enforcement began an investigation into drug-trafficking of Gerardo Gamboa, aka “Tio.” Gamboa was the head of this organization and was bringing in and selling pound quantities of methamphetamine in the River Valley area. Gamboa would distribute or sell quantities of methamphetamine to drug dealers who would then distribute smaller quantities of methamphetamine to lower-level drug dealers in the organization or to methamphetamine users. Law enforcement made controlled purchases of methamphetamine from several members at various levels of the organization.
The investigation into the drug-trafficking organization grew out of a larger investigation known as “Operation Shaw-Crank Redemption.” This investigation has been ongoing for two years and has involved the use of a wide variety of approaches by law-enforcement to disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute drug-trafficking in the Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Arkansas River Valley area. Numerous controlled buys, surveillance, search warrants, and monitoring have been used during the course of the investigation. Due to its impact on multiple states, this investigation was designated an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation. The investigation has resulted in a total of 49 arrests and prosecutions, including the defendants charged as part of this organization. Additionally, the two-year investigation has resulted in the seizure of 22 pounds of methamphetamine, 10 firearms, $5,000 in currency, and four cars and two motorcycles valued at $25,000.
The defendants were sentenced as follows:
Gerardo Gamboa, 36, an illegal alien of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for distributing more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Gamboa received a sentencing enhancement for being the leader of the organization.
Salvador Guerrero-Lopez, 30, an illegal alien of Los Angeles, California, was sentenced to 135 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.
Miguel Gonzalez, 22, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was sentenced to 60 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Huy Tran, 34, of Fort Smith, Arkansas was sentenced to 63 months in prison for distributing methamphetamine.
Sabrina Shepard, 25, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was sentenced to 51 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Michael Rouell, 37, of Muskogee, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 151 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Curtis Atkins, 48, of Spiro, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 130 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Ana Esparza, 30, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was sentenced to 100 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Jessica Sparks, 29, of Keota, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 120 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Maria Terresa Hernandez, 41, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Abraham Jaimes, 28, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
The final defendants in this case are set to be sentenced in June, 2014.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Duty Task Force Group, which includes DEA, ATF, and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents and Task Force Officers from Fort Smith Police Department, Van Buren Police Department, and the 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force. The investigation was assisted by the United States Marshals Service, Leflore County Drug Task Force, Leflore County Prosecutor’s Office, Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office, and Sebastian County Prosecutor’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Clay Fowlkes and Candace Taylor prosecuted the case for the United States.