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January 17, 2014

Little Rock -Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas; William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and Scott Ellington, District Prosecuting Attorney for the Second Judicial District of Arkansas; announced the unsealing of a 62-count indictment charging multiple defendants in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, with multiple drug charges. An investigation into large-scale drug trafficking resulted in the arrests of 21 defendants on methamphetamine and marijuana charges Thursday. Those arrested are scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney at 1 p.m. today. Four defendants remain at large.

"The result of many hours of investigation by dedicated law enforcement agents and officers is clear – drug traffickers will be arrested and prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law,” stated Thyer. “We continue to target the networks supplying meth across the northeastern region of Arkansas to take the dealers, the drugs, and the weapons out of our communities.”

ASAC Bryant added, “Methamphetamine continues to be the number one drug threat to the citizens of Arkansas. As you can see in this case, it not only affects our urban areas but also our rural areas such as Manila, Arkansas. As a result of a great team effort of federal, state, and local law enforcement, this drug trafficking organization was dismantled.”

“The Arkansas State Police has made an unconditional commitment toward working with all law enforcement agencies and provide whatever resources we can to remove from our communities those individuals who provide a source of illegal drugs,” said Colonel Stan Witt.

District Attorney Ellington added, "I want to thank U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer, Bill Bryant and the DEA, Colonel Stan Witt and the Arkansas State Police, and the other federal agencies who assisted our local officers with the investigation and execution of this operation. It is good to know that when we run up against a significant distribution organization as we saw in this instance, we only have to ask for assistance and they are willing to step up and take the lead in the investigation and apprehension of those bringing methamphetamine into our community. I also want to thank our Drug Task Force for their tireless efforts in this case and every case they work."

Yesterday, federal, state and local law enforcement arrested 17 defendants during an early-morning operation focused in Blytheville. Roy Witherspoon, age 30, of Blytheville, was arrested Thursday night. One defendant, Renaldre Jackson, age 22, of Blytheville, was already in federal custody after pleading guilty to another drug charge. Two others, Quinton Wiencek, age 41, of Chaffee, Missouri and Timothy Sheard, age 35, of Jonesboro, Arkansas, were in state custody on unrelated charges. Cordero Lockhart, a/k/a “KO”, age 25; Antwon Bailey, a/k/a “Pee Wheezy”, age 27; Tamika Petty, age 26; and Jamal Shontal Piggie, a/k/a “Joker”, age 27; all of Blytheville are still at large. More than $50,000 in drug proceeds, multiple cars and motorcycles, drug paraphernalia, and several firearms were seized from multiple houses during the operation.

The DEA investigation began in late 2011 and early 2012. Multiple undercover operations and numerous law enforcement actions, including multiple seizures of methamphetamine were conducted by the DEA and 2nd Judicial Drug Task Force.

The Indictment handed down by a Federal Grand Jury January 7, 2014, charges 25 defendants in sixty-two separate counts stemming from a large-scale investigation into methamphetamine and narcotics trafficking in Northeast Arkansas. Four defendants live in Southeastern Missouri, one in Oklahoma, and one in Little Rock. The charges include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, aiding and abetting distribution of methamphetamine, misprision of a felony, and use of telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. 24 of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. Each defendant charged with conspiracy will face a possible sentence of not less than 10 years to life imprisonment. All 25 defendants also face from one to three telephone counts which carry a statutory sentence of not more than four years imprisonment.

The investigation was conducted by the DEA and the ATF Cape Girardeau Field Office, with substantial assistance from the 2nd Judicial Drug Task Force, which includes officers from the Jonesboro Police Department, Blytheville Police Department, the Osceola Police Department, Craighead County Sherriff’s Office and the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office. Assistance was also provided by the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force, ATF Little Rock Field Office, FBI Jonesboro Field Office, United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Marshal Service, the Arkansas State Police, the Arkansas National Guard, and Little Rock Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Chris Givens.

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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