News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2006

Fifteen Arrested On Meth Charges In Heavener Area Of Oklahoma

JUL 18--MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – Sheldon J. Sperling, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, announced that arrests were made this morning, Tuesday, July 18, 2006, in the Heavener, Oklahoma area of LeFlore County.

“Three Federal arrests were executed for Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and twelve State of Oklahoma arrests were made for additional drug charges,” U.S. Attorney Sperling reported. “The Federal arrests were made pursuant to a Complaint or preliminary charge,” U.S. Attorney Sperling reported. “The defendants will be subject to federal court proceedings in the coming days and weeks.”

“During the arrests today, officers seized quantities of methamphetamine and numerous firearms,” relayed U.S. Attorney Sperling.

“ The investigation, which began in January 2005, targeted methamphetamine traffickers in the Heavener area of LeFlore County,” U.S. Attorney Sperling continued. “Investigative efforts were led by the District Attorney’s Drug Task Force for District 16 (LeFlore County), Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Forest Service, with assistance from the LeFlore County Sheriff’s Office, Poteau Police Department, Pocola Police Department, Heavener Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Polk County, Arkansas, the 18 West Judicial District Drug Crime Task Force, Polk County, Arkansas, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Immigration & Customs Enforcement.”

“Since January 2005, officers conducted surveillance, made undercover drug purchases, and used other techniques to gather evidence in this investigation,” commented U.S. Attorney Sperling. “The success of the investigation would not have been possible without the professional commitment to the law enforcement mission displayed by all of these local, state, and federal agencies.”

U.S Attorney Sheldon Sperling further observed, “This investigation and resulting arrests reflect the dedication of the law enforcement community to the Eastern District’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. The Department of Justice utilizes Project Safe Neighborhoods to target our most serious drug and gun offenders for federal prosecution, by simultaneously bringing local, state, and federal authorities to bear upon those who bring dangerous and unlawful drugs into our communities. Today’s arrests stand as a striking example of what can be accomplished when agents at all levels of government work together for the good of their communities.”

Farley Ward, District Attorney for LeFlore and Latimer Counties provided the following details of the investigation. In the fall of 2004, District 16 District Attorney’s Drug Task Force began to investigate methamphetamine ICE trafficking in LeFlore County. In January 2005, the Task Force was joined by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, U.S. Forest Service, DEA, Poteau Police Department, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Polk County Arkansas Sheriff’s Department. An organized cell of narcotics traffickers was identified. Undercover agents were used and large quantities of methamphetamine ICE were purchased in and around the town of Heavener in LeFlore County. “During the course of the investigation, officers found that over a quarter of a million dollars in methamphetamine was being trafficked in LeFlore County in approximately a month’s time,” stated D.A. Ward.

“ Methamphetamine is an evil drug that has left a path of destruction in communities all across the United States. Combating meth production and trafficking is a top priority for law enforcement, nationwide. This investigation is a prime example of federal, state, and local agencies working together to halt those responsible for and profiterring from the spread of this vicious drug,” noted Mark Woodward, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

“ Methamphetamine has the ability to destroy entire communities,” commented Mike Dromgoole, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “The victims are often children, unsuspecting neighbors and families who live in neighborhoods where meth dealers pedal their poison. Methamphetamine can strangle a small community such as Heavener. DEA is proud to be a part of the law enforcement efforts that have helped to free this area of drug dealers who tried to take this community as their own.”

“ Under the law, all defendants are presumed innocent of all charges until their guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law,” stated U. S. Attorney Sperling.
Assistant United States Attorneys Dennis Fries and Rob Wallace represent the government in this matter.

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