FORT SMITH, Ark.–Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas; Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Thomas Achord, Eureka Springs Police Chief, Raymond R. Parmer, Special Agent in Charge of HSI, Tony Rogers, Prosecuting Attorney for the 19th Judicial District, and David Ethredge, Prosecuting Attorney for the 14th Judicial District announced that 13 individuals were arrested Thursday by local, state, and federal law enforcement as part of a roundup following an over year-long investigation into methamphetamine and heroin trafficking in Boone, Baxter, Searcy, Newton, Carroll, and Washington Counties in Arkansas.
Nine defendants were arrested on federal charges and four were arrested on state charges. Three additional defendants had already been arrested on federal charges and are in custody. Law enforcement also executed two federal search warrants, in Harrison and Lead Hill, as part of the operation.
On July 25, a federal grand jury returned two separate indictments charging 11 individuals in Arkansas and Missouri with a total of 24 counts relating to the distribution of methamphetamine. The indictments were unsealed Thursday.
In addition, for much of the year of 2017, the Eureka Springs Police Department, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, DEA and FBI conducted a separate, but related operation which resulted in the investigation and arrests of four persons in Eureka Springs, Arkansas whom are suspected of trafficking heroin in that area. As a part of this enforcement action, three federal search warrants were served in Eureka Springs today.
The arrests today are directly related to last year’s federal arrests of 19 individuals in the Harrison, area on Oct. 27, 2016 in an FBI led investigation. Of the 19 individuals arrested in last year’s related operation, 18 have been convicted and are currently awaiting sentencing before the Honorable P.K. Holmes, III, Chief Judge for the Western District of Arkansas.
"Along with our law enforcement partners, we remain committed in our dedication to eradicate the flow of illegal narcotics into our communities," said Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Little Rock. "We are grateful to the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Western District of Arkansas, the 14th Judicial Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Eureka Springs Police Department, the Arkansas State Police, the Boone County Sheriff, the Newton County Sheriff, the Searcy County Sheriff, the Baxter County Sheriff, the Harrison Police Department, and the Arkansas National Guard for their leadership, professionalism, and participation in this case."
David Ethredge, Prosecuting Attorney for the 14th Judicial District of Arkansas commented, “I would like to thank the many law enforcement officers that worked so hard and so long on this investigation. By combining resources and working together, we were able to accomplish what none of us could have otherwise accomplished on our own.”
"Stopping the flow of illegal drugs and disbanding the drug networks is vital to keeping our communities safe", said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer, Jr. "Together with our law enforcement partners we will continue to target these criminal elements and rid our communities of people who wish to destroy our society."
Eureka Springs Police Chief Thomas Achord commented, "Our community and its citizens deserve a safe and welcoming environment in which they go to school, work, and enjoy their daily lives. A cooperative effort between all the participating agencies made efficient use of combined resources to ensure the families have that peace of mind."
Tony Rogers, Prosecuting Attorney for the 19th East Judicial District commented, “I would like to thank all agencies that assisted with this operation to include the Eureka Springs Police Department, Chief Thomas Achord and the Federal Task Force, for assisting Carroll County with the continued enforcement with the federal and state drug laws, particularly as it relates to methamphetamine and opioids”.
The federal defendants who were arrested today will appear in the United States District in Fayetteville before United States Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann on Monday, Aug. 21, at 3 p.m.
This was a joint investigation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the 14th Judicial Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Eureka Springs Police Department, the Arkansas State Police, the Boone County Sheriff, the Newton County Sheriff, the Searcy County Sheriff, the Baxter County Sheriff, the Harrison Police Department, and the Arkansas National Guard. Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Carter is prosecuting the case for the Western District of Arkansas.
An indictment is merely an accusation. An arrest warrant represents a finding of probable cause that a person has committed a criminal offense. A person is presumed innocent unless or until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.