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NEW CHARGES IN HELENA-WEST HELENA AND MARIANNA OPERATION DELTA BLUES

February 9, 2012

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced that a federal grand jury returned superseding indictments late Wednesday, February 8, 2012, in United States v. Demetrius Colbert, et al., 4:11CR00210 JMM and United States v. Torrence Turner, et al., 4:11CR00211 JMM. The superseding indictments add new charges for previously-indicted defendants relating to some of the contraband seized and events that occurred on October 11, 2011, at the time of the initial roundup of the Operation Delta Blues defendants. No new defendants are added to the superseding indictments.

"The fact that additional charges have been filed in a superseding indictment emphasizes what I said in October of last year --- this is an ongoing investigation,” stated Thyer. “The federal authorities didn't enter into this matter lightly and they will not have a premature exit strategy. We are in it for the long haul and will follow the evidence in the pursuit of whatever rightful charges may flow."

In the Colbert indictment, six counts were added, as follows, in addition to forfeiture allegations:

Marcus Thompson, age 38, of Marianna, Arkansas, was charged in Count 18 with possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine; in Count 19 with being a felon in possession of a firearm; and in Count 20 with discharging a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime.

Demetrius Colbert, age 36, of Helena-West Helena and Marianna, Arkansas, was charged in Count 21 with being a felon in possession of a firearm; in Count 22 with assaulting a federal officer; and in Count 23 with discharging a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime.

The firearm that is the subject of Counts 21, 22, and 23 is a Glock model 35, .40 caliber pistol. On December 21, 2011, Neteisha Barefield entered a change of plea in Case No. 4:11CR00209-3 JMM. During that change of plea hearing, and in factual stipulations in a written plea agreement, Barefield admitted that she purchased the Glock model 35, .40 caliber pistol on March 11, 2011, from Kalb Pawn in Helena-West Helena for Sedrick Trice, because Trice had previously been convicted of a felony, and could not himself purchase a firearm. Also on December 21, 2011, Sedrick Trice entered a change of plea in Case No. 4:11CR00209-1 JMM. During that change of plea hearing, and in factual stipulations in a written plea agreement, Trice admitted that Neteisha Barefield purchased the Glock model 35, .40 caliber pistol for Trice at Trice’s request, and that Trice later gave this firearm to Leon Edwards, who gave it to Demetrius Colbert, aka D-Coop.

In the Turner indictment, one count was added, as follows, in addition to forfeiture allegations:

Kedrick Daniels, age 33, of Marianna, Arkansas, was charged in Count 30 with possessing four firearms in connection with a drug trafficking crime.

The investigation known as “Operation Delta Blues” primarily focused on public corruption and drug trafficking activities in the Helena-West Helena and Marianna, Arkansas, areas. The charges stem from multiple Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigations spanning more than a two-year period. The United States Attorney’s Office utilized sixteen court-authorized wiretaps over the course of Operation Delta Blues. Approximately 800 federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel from the FBI, DEA, IRS, ATF, ASP, and the Little Rock Police Department participated in the October 11, 2011, arrests. The original indictments were returned on October 4, 2011. These are the first superseding indictments in Operation Delta Blues. The investigation is ongoing.

Of the seventy defendants indicted in October 2011, five have pleaded guilty: Sedrick Trice, Neteisha Barefield, Dempsey Word, Robert Rogers, and Robert Wahls. One defendant, Milton Johnson, aka Bump, remains a fugitive.

The investigation is being conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office, FBI, DEA, ATF, IRS-CID, and ASP. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Julie Peters, Benecia B. Moore, and Michael Gordon.

An indictment contains only allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Statutory Sentences:

Possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) carries a possible punishment of no less than five and up to forty years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5 million.

Possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) carries a possible punishment of not more than ten years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine.

Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) carries a possible punishment of no less than five years and up to life imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine.

Discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) carries a possible punishment of no less than ten years and up to life imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine.

Assaulting a federal officer using a deadly or dangerous weapon or inflicting bodily injury in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111 carries a possible punishment of up to twenty years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine.

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Christopher R. Thyer

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas is pleased to bring you

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