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LEAD DEFENDANT FROM OPERATION “MEILKY WAY” PLEADS GUILTY

September 7, 2012

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced today the guilty plea to Count One of a 36 count Superseding Indictment by Jorge Rojas-Olivera, age 27, of Batesville, Arkansas. Count One of the Superseding Indictment charges Rojas-Olivera and his co-defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

At the plea hearing held before United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes, Rojas-Olivera admitted that he sold methamphetamine on multiple occasions over a period of months and that more than 500 grams of methamphetamine were involved in the offense. The United States announced that all sentencing enhancements pursuant to the United States Sentencing Guidelines, including enhancements regarding allegations of an attempt by Rojas-Olivera to solicit the murder of a witness, would be litigated at the sentencing hearing, as the parties could not reach an agreement.

“Rojas-Olivera supplied large quantities of meth to a network of dealers in Arkansas. Now, he faces a long prison term without parole,” stated Thyer. “The quality of the investigative work by law enforcement on this case is reflected in the number of defendants who have ultimately admitted to their participation in distributing a tremendous amount of methamphetamine in Arkansas. I, and the law abiding citizens of Arkansas, thank each of you for your dedication to ridding our communities of those who market drugs and perpetuate violence at the expense of the peace and safety of the people who live in them.”

The Superseding Indictment, which charged 22 individuals, is the result of “Operation Meilke Way,” a multi-agency investigation led by DEA. To date, 14 defendants have pled guilty, four defendants are set for change of plea hearings, and four defendants have a pending trial date.

This investigation targeted a large scale drug trafficking organization distributing multi-pound quantities of methamphetamine in central, north, and northeast Arkansas. The methamphetamine was smuggled from Mexico to Arkansas for distribution. In total, law enforcement seized 13.3 pounds of methamphetamine, seven vehicles, $163,590, and five guns.

At the change of plea hearing, the United States provided a synopsis of the evidence to be presented if the case were to go to trial. Specifically, beginning in October 2010, through December 12, 2011, defendant Jorge Rojas-Olivera was identified as a methamphetamine source of supply in northeast Arkansas. Law enforcement conducted two controlled purchases of ounce quantities of methamphetamine from Rojas-Olivera in August and September of 2011. On December 12, 2011, a search warrant was executed at Rojas-Olivera’s residence where agents recovered empty, washed out baggies in the bathroom, a gun with a loaded clip, cash, and a bag of MSM, a cutting agent for methamphetamine. The United States would also present evidence of phone calls between Rojas-Olivera and co-defendants where Rojas-Olivera discussed his methamphetamine distribution activities and drug debts, including calls where Rojas-Olivera threatened to kill a person who owed a drug debt, but law enforcement intervened to avoid any violence. During various hearings and interviews, multiple co-defendants have identified Rojas-Olivera as their source of supply for multiple pound and multiple ounce quantities of methamphetamine, including co-defendant Michael Meilke who admitted that Rojas-Olivera supplied him with a total quantity of approximately 90 pounds of methamphetamine over a period of approximately three months. Another co-defendant has provided information that Rojas-Olivera attempted to solicit the murder of a witness in exchange for the cancellation of a drug debt owed by the co-defendant.

This case was investigated by the DEA - Little Rock HIDTA Group # 62 composed of Special Agents from DEA and Task Force Officers from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, the North Little Rock Police Department, the Benton Police Department, the Arkansas State Police, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. Also involved in the investigation was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Independence County Sheriff’s Office; the Central Arkansas Drug Task Force; the 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force; the Arkansas National Guard; and the Maumelle Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney Jane W. Duke and Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Mazzanti.

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Christopher R. Thyer

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