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THREE DEFENDANTS PLEA GUILTY IN OPERATION DELTA BLUES

January 19, 2012

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced today that three defendants in Operation Delta Blues entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Court Judge James M. Moody. The three defendants are Robert Rogers, Neteisha Barefield, and Dempsey Word.

Robert Rogers entered a plea of guilty to attempted interference with commerce by means of extortion ("Hobbs Act") as set forth in Count Three of the Indictment. The United States dismissed the remaining counts against the defendant (Counts One, Two, Five, Six, Seven, Nine, and Eleven). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), the plea agreement calls for the court to impose an agreed 16 month sentence. The maximum penalty for the charge set forth in Count Three is not more than twenty years imprisonment, not more than five years supervised release, and a $100 special assessment. As part of his plea agreement, during the change of plea hearing the defendant agreed that the following facts are true: On September 12, 2011, a confidential source (CS) posing as a drug trafficker contacted Helena-West Helena Police Department Officer Robert Rogers at federal law enforcement direction. The CS and Rogers discussed a previous occasion when the CS needed a police escort to transport illegal drugs across Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, and Rogers referred the CS to Helena-West Helena Police Department Sergeant Marlene Kalb. The CS indicated that the CS would be needing another police escort soon. On September 13, 2011, the CS contacted Rogers and stated that the CS would be coming across the bridge soon. Rogers agreed to meet the CS at the bridge and to escort the CS through Helena-West Helena in exchange for $500 cash. At approximately 4:00 p.m., Rogers met the CS at the Arkansas-Mississippi bridge on his motorcycle. Rogers followed the CS from the bridge across Helena-West Helena. Rogers and the CS discussed the amount of money the CS was making transporting illegal drugs and the source of those drugs. The CS then paid Rogers $500 cash.

Neteisha Barefield entered a plea of guilty to disposing of a firearm to a felon as set forth in Count Seven of the Indictment. The United States dismissed the remaining counts against the defendant (Counts One, Eight, Nine, Twenty-Two, and Twenty-Three). Barefield will be sentenced at a later date to be determined by the Court. The maximum penalty for the charge set forth in Count Seven is not more than ten years imprisonment, not more than three years supervised release, and a $100 special assessment. As part of her plea agreement, during the change of plea hearing the defendant agreed that the following facts are true: On March 11, 2011, defendant Neteisha Barefield purchased a Glock model 35, .40 caliber pistol, serial number PBP842, from Kalb Pawn in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. Barefield did this at SEDRICK TRICE's request, knowing that TRICE had previously been convicted of a felony, and could not himself purchase a firearm. TRICE accompanied Barefield to Kalb Pawn when she purchased this firearm, and Barefield gave the gun to TRICE for his use immediately following the purchase. Barefield knew that TRICE possessed the firearm in connection with TRICE's ongoing drug-trafficking activities in Helena-West Helena.

Dempsey Word entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute a controlled substance as set forth in Count One of the Indictment. The United States dismissed the remaining counts against the defendant in this matter (Counts Ninety-One and Ninety-Two). Word will be sentenced at a later date to be determined by the Court. The maximum penalty for the charge set forth in Count One as to this defendant is not less than 5 years imprisonment, not more than 40 years imprisonment, not less than 4 years and up to life supervised release, and a $100 special assessment. As part of his plea agreement, during the change of plea hearing the defendant agreed that the following facts are true: Beginning no later than January 2010, and continuing through October 2011, in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, defendant Dempsey Word regularly purchased cocaine, crack cocaine, and/or marijuana from Sedrick Trice and Leon Edwards for redistribution to other individuals, at times acting as a "middle man" for larger-quantity transactions. Word met with Trice and Edwards in person, and used telephone number 870-995-4114 to contact Trice at 870-995-9648 and Edwards at 870-995-9661, for the purpose of purchasing or brokering the sale of distribution quantities of cocaine totaling at least 500 grams of cocaine. For example, on February 26, 2011, Word asked Trice how much cocaine he could obtain for a St. Louis customer for "nine racks," meaning $9000. Trice responded that at $1075 per ounce, Trice could supply Word with "8 and a half", meaning 8.5 ounces of cocaine. Word, Trice, and Edwards then arranged for Edwards to supply 8.5 ounces of cocaine to Word for $9000. Word brokered transactions between Trice and Edwards and the St. Louis customer on other occasions, in quantities as great as a half-kilogram of cocaine. On another occasion, on March 17, 2011, Word paid Donny Mitchell $140 for drugs purchased, intending that the money be delivered to Trice. Word was aware that Trice possessed firearms during the time period of the conspiracy. For example, on March 12, 2011, Word contacted Trice to let Trice know that Trice left the "chopper," meaning machine gun, at a house next to Word's house, so that Trice could pick it up.

The charges stem from multiple Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigations spanning more than a two-year period. The investigations, collectively referred to as “Operation Delta Blues,” primarily focused on public corruption and drug trafficking activities in the Helena-West Helena and Marianna, Arkansas, areas. 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division; and Arkansas State Police participated in the October 11, 2011, arrests.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office, FBI, DEA, ATF, IRS-CID, and ASP with operational assistance from the Arkansas National Guard, the Little Rock Police Department and the West Memphis Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Julie Peters, Benecia B. Moore, and Michael Gordon.

(HWH Rogers Plea AgreementAdobe Icon Image)

(HWH Barefield Plea AgreementAdobe Icon Image)

(HWH Word Plea AgreementAdobe Icon Image)

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Christopher R. Thyer

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