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19 BLYTHEVILLE RESIDENTS CHARGED IN MULTIPLE DRUG TRAFFICKING AND WEAPONS CASES

March 13, 2013

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Special Agent in Charge Marino F. Vidoli announced seven indictments which were unsealed today charging nineteen defendants in Blytheville, Arkansas, with multiple drug and gun charges. All told, the indictments charge the 19 defendants with 91 different counts. Approximately two kilograms of methamphetamine, multiple ounces of crack cocaine, more than 26 pounds of marijuana and 24 guns, including six stolen guns, were seized in the operation.

“As I said in October of 2011, our commitment to eradicating drug trafficking and violent crime has never been stronger,” stated United States Attorney Christopher R. Thyer. “In order to achieve the results we see today, it takes commitment from every law enforcement agency in the region. These large-scale investigations take time and teamwork. These indictments, arrests and seizures of weapons are proof that law enforcement in the Eastern District of Arkansas stands behind their commitment to the citizens of this region.”

“This investigation is a prime example of what happens when agencies work together to make their communities safer,” said Vidoli. “ATF’s commitment to reducing violent crime begins with our relationships with our law enforcement partners.”

The indictments are part of a larger operation, named H.I.T.S. (High Intensity Trafficking Suppression), initiated in response to firearms violence and the trafficking of firearms and narcotics in northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri. Over the past two years the investigation resulted in over 240 undercover operations and numerous other law enforcement actions.

The main indictment charges eleven defendants in fifty-three separate counts stemming from a large-scale investigation into methamphetamine and narcotics trafficking in Blytheville. The indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury on March 6, 2013. The counts include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, aiding and abetting distribution of methamphetamine, use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, felon in possession of a firearm, use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime, and obstruction of justice. (See defendant/charge list attached.). If convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine each defendant will face a sentence of not less than 10 years to life imprisonment.

Six other indictments charge eight more defendants with counts including possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, felon in possession of a firearm, and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.

The ATF operation in Blytheville developed into multiple cases involving law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels. The conspiracy indictment is the largest case to date from that investigation.

Those arrested today will be arraigned in federal court in Little Rock before United States Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 14, 2013. Detention hearings will be held on Friday, March 15, 2013.

The investigation was conducted by ATF, in partnership with the 2nd Judicial Drug Task Force, which includes officers from the Blytheville Police Department, the Osceola Police Department and the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office. The Arkansas State Police provided additional assistance with today’s operation. The seven indictments are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Chris Givens, Alex Morgan, Kristin Bryant and Cameron McCree.

An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Christopher R. Thyer

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