September 24, 2014
Contact: SA Debbie Webber
Phone Number: (504) 840-1100
Arrests Dismantle Clinton-Based Drug Trafficking Organization
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - David Downing, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Drug Enforcement (DEA), and Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas; along with 20th Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland; and Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley announced an investigation into a large-scale drug trafficking organization based in Clinton resulted in the early-morning arrests of multiple defendants on charges involving possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, and weapons possession. Ten of the defendants were already in state custody on separate charges.
“Methamphetamine destroys the lives of its abusers and has far-reaching negative effects in the communities where it takes hold,” said Downing. “By targeting local distribution networks in Arkansas, DEA and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners are working to reduce overall crime and improve the quality of life for area residents. The numerous arrests and seizures in this investigation are the result of our close cooperation and part of our on-going efforts to ensure that drug traffickers are held responsible for the harm they cause.”
“Today, a major drug trafficking organization in Van Buren County was dismantled,” stated Thyer. “This organization put the citizens and children of Clinton and the surrounding community at risk every day. Through the efforts of law enforcement at all levels, we have brought federal charges against these drug-dealing criminals to get them off and keep them off the streets for years to come.”
Prosecutor Cody Hiland added, “Today’s arrests are the culmination of an 18 month criminal investigation that began with a local tire shop in Clinton. I think today's operation certainly highlights the value of our local drug task forces and the virtue of working with other state and federal law enforcement agencies in helping make our communities more safe. The operation today is historic in scope and size and its impact on the illegal drug trade in Van Buren County will continue to be felt in the years to come.”
The DEA and 20th Judicial Drug Task Force investigation began in January 2011. Multiple undercover operations and numerous other law enforcement actions, including multiple seizures of methamphetamine were used during the investigation. All told, the Task Force purchased and seized more than six pounds of methamphetamine from the Jeffery Weaver drug trafficking (DTO) through controlled purchases and search warrants. The DEA and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and (ATF) also seized a total of 52 firearms. In addition, the defendants charged in the indictment are responsible for distributing or possessing over 300 pounds of methamphetamine.
The indictment, unsealed this afternoon, was handed down by a Federal Grand Jury on September 11, 2014. The indictment charges 34 defendants in 45 separate counts. The counts include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine, felon in possession of firearms, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and the use of telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.
If convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine each defendant will face a sentence of not less than 10 years to life imprisonment.
The investigation and prosecution of this case is a coordinated effort through the David G. Wilhelm OCDETF Strike Force and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA) and was conducted by the DEA and the 20th Judicial Drug Task Force with assistance from several law enforcement agencies including the ATF, Arkansas State Police, Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas National Guard, Conway Police Department, and the United States Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kristin Bryant and Stephanie Mazzanti.
An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.