BETHEL HEIGHTS MAN SENTENCED TO 27 YEARS FOR CONSPIRACY TO DISTRIBUTE METHAMPHETAMINE, UNLAWFUL FIREARM POSSESSION AND TAMPERING WITH A WITNESS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2012
Fort Smith- Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Arles Velasquez of Bethel Heights, Arkansas, was sentenced to 27 years in prison with no parole today in federal court. After a two-day jury trial in October 2011, Velasquez was convicted of tampering with a witness, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (specifically, an unlawful user or addict of to any controlled substance). Valesquez was found to be a member of a methamphetamine distribution ring in Northwest Arkansas. The entire conspiracy, which operated from January 2009 until May 12, 2010, involved at least 5 kilograms of methamphetamine.
During the jury trial, law enforcement agents testified that 8 undercover purchases of methamphetamine were made from one of Velasquez’s associates in the drug trade. On May 12, 2010, based on these undercover purchases, agents obtained a search warrant for a suspected stash house, which was determined to be the residence of Velasquez. During the search, agents located 5 firearms, a plastic bag containing methamphetamine, a used glass smoking pipe and two digital scales.
Valesquez was arrested and transported to Benton County Detention Center in Bentonville, Arkansas. Velasquez was later transferred to the Washington County Jail. While in custody at Washington County, Velasquez was housed with a former associate in the drug trade who had provided information to assist the government in prosecuting the case. On December 4, 2010, Velasquez approached three inmates at Benton County about the associate being a “rat” and wanting him beaten up. According to witness testimony at trial, the three inmates entered the cell of the associate and physically assaulted him, while Velasquez paced around the perimeter of the cell block to ensure that the beating occurred.
At sentencing, Chief United States District Court Judge P.K. Holmes sentenced Velasquez to 324 months imprisonment. Valesquez was also ordered to serve 3 years supervised release upon his release from prison.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Springdale Police Department and the 4th Judicial District Drug Task Force. Assistant United States Attorneys Clay Fowlkes and Candace Taylor prosecuted this case for the United States.