News and Press Releases

OPERATION ICE PICK RESULTS IN CHARGES AGAINST 23 DEFENDANTS AS PART OF INVESTIGATION INTO DRUG TRAFFICKING IN GURDON, ARKANSAS AND SURROUNDING AREAS



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2012

 






Gurdon, Arkansas - Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of
Arkansas; Bill Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock District Office of the
Drug Enforcement Administration; Blake Batson, Prosecuting Attorney for the Ninth East Judicial
District; and Jason Watson, Clark County Sheriff, announced that 23 individuals have been charged
with drug trafficking offenses as part of Operation Ice Pick, which targeted drug trafficking activity
in Gurdon, Arkansas and the surrounding area, including Arkadelphia and Malvern. Six individuals
have been indicted in Federal Court and 13 additional individuals have been charged in Clark County
Circuit Court. Four additional individuals were charged with drug trafficking offenses in Malvern,
Arkansas, two of those in Federal Court and two of those in Hot Spring County Circuit Court.

United States Attorney Eldridge commented “Like many small towns, Gurdon has been
plagued by drug trafficking - including selling drugs near schools and playgrounds. With this case,
numerous drug traffickers in the area have been arrested and are being prosecuted. Cleaning up drug
activity is vital to the success of Gurdon, as it is for all communities. For this reason, we remain
focused on prosecuting drug trafficking across the Western District.”

Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bill Bryant said, “Unfortunately, small towns in Arkansas
are not immune to drug trafficking. DEA worked with state and local counterparts in this area of the
state in an effort to disrupt these drug trafficking activities.”

Prosecuting Attorney Batson said, “In Operation Ice Pick, we have used the resources and
tools of the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and local law enforcement
to break up, pick at and chip away the ice (Methamphetamine) trafficking in this county. With their
assistance and with the dedication and countless hours of work done by Group 6 Task Force Officers,
Gurdon Police Department, Clark County Sheriff's Deputies, Arkansas State Police, Arkadelphia
Police, and Arkansas Highway Police, we are protecting our children and families from this
devastating drug.”

Sheriff Watson added “I appreciate the assistance from all of the agencies involved as this
was a very vital operation in Clark County. Taking office, I knew that we had a major problem in
the Southern area of our county. We hope that today’s operation shows that we will have a zero
tolerance policy on this type of behavior. If you live in Clark County and choose to engage in this
activity and supply our children with dangerous drugs, you can expect these results.”

According to documents filed in court, the investigation included numerous controlled
purchases of methamphetamine and crack cocaine in Gurdon, Arkansas and the surrounding area.
In many cases, children were present during the drug transactions. Grand Jury indictments have been
unsealed today charging Elander Kennel, Samson Kadari, Andrae Barnes, Jerome Macon, Kenyuan
Morris, and Samuel Barrientos with federal drug trafficking offenses. Kennel, Kardari, and Barnes
are related as brothers. Criminal Informations filed in Clark County, Arkansas Circuit Court
charging Julian Marks, James Campbell, Chris Penny, Teresa Grigsby, Marcus Horton, John Powell,
Thomas Gulley, Bobby Charles, Wheatie Wells, Candelario Leon, Bobby Holiman, and Carlton
Marks were also announced today.

The maximum penalty for the federal charge of distribution of methamphetamine in this case
is 40 years in prison.

Operation Ice Pick is a joint operation between the Drug Enforcement Administration, the
Ninth East Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, the Arkansas State
Police, the Arkadelphia Police, the Gurdon Police and the Arkansas Highway Police. U.S. Attorney
Conner Eldridge, Prosecuting Attorney Blake Batson, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Wulff are
prosecuting the case.

The charges in an Indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless or
until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

* * * E N D * * *

The Office of U.S. Attorney
Conner Eldridge
 
Photo of Conner Eldridge  
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Western District of Arkansas
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