U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE BRINGS CHARGES AGAINST 23 DEFENDANTS AS PART OF INVESTIGATION INTO GAMBOA DRUG TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2013
Fort Smith, Arkansas - Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas; William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Grover C. Crossland, Resident Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; David Tusson, Resident Agent in Charge of the Department of Homeland Security; Bill Hollenbeck, Sebastian County Sheriff; Kevin Lindsey, Fort Smith Police Department Chief of Police; and Kenneth Bell, Van Buren Police Department Chief of Police, announced that 23 individuals have been charged with drug-trafficking offenses as part of an investigation into the Gamboa drug-trafficking organization, an organization active in the Fort Smith area. The defendants were charged in indictments returned by a federal grand jury on June 4. The indictments detail various crimes that took place from November 2012 to May 2013, including the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, use of a cell phone to facilitate a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and unlawful reentry by an illegal alien.
United States Attorney Eldridge commented, “This office remains committed to the elimination of drug-trafficking organizations operating in and around the Western District of Arkansas. These charges are the result of an impressive investigation involving several federal and state agencies and organizations. I applaud their efforts in helping to make the communities of the Western District and surrounding areas safer, and we will continue the effort to ensure all defendants are brought to justice.”
Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bryant stated, “Methamphetamine continues to be the major drug threat in Arkansas. All the federal, state, and local agencies are committed as one to disrupt and dismantle these major multi-state drug-trafficking organizations distributing multi-pound quantities of methamphetamine ice into Arkansas. This investigation resulted in the seizure of large quantities of methamphetamine that never made it to the streets of our community.”
"This is an excellent example of local and federal law enforcement working well and partnering together in an effort to make Sebastian County a safer place to raise our families," stated Sheriff Hollenbeck.
Chief Lindsey remarked, “This particular case has had wide ranging effects on the trafficking of methamphetamine especially considering number of persons who were indicted and the fact that the activity occurred over at least four states (AR, TX, MO, CA). Once again, the value of local law enforcement’s partnerships with federal law enforcement officers demonstrates our collective impact in the war on drugs.”
“Drug cases do not stop at city limits, state borders, or country borders, so when local police departments work with federal agencies our efforts are more intensified and directed. This case is a good example of what we can accomplish when we work together,” stated Chief Bell.
Beginning in August of 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration Duty Task Force Group began an investigation of the Gerardo Gamboa, aka “Tio,” Drug-Trafficking Organization (“DTO”). Gerardo Gamboa was the head of this DTO and was bringing in and selling pound quantities of methamphetamine in the River Valley area. Gamboa would distribute or sell quantities of methamphetamine to drug dealers who would then distribute smaller quantities of methamphetamine to lower-level drug dealers in the DTO or to methamphetamine users. Law enforcement made controlled purchases of methamphetamine from several members at various levels of the DTO. Law enforcement executed search warrants at several locations around the River Valley. The investigation led to the prosecution of 23 individuals involved in this DTO.
The investigation into the Gamboa drug-trafficking organization grew out of a larger investigation known as “Operation Shaw-Crank Redemption.” This investigation has been ongoing for two years and has involved the use of a wide variety of approaches by law-enforcement to disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute drug trafficking in the Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Arkansas River Valley area. Numerous controlled buys, surveillance, search warrants, and monitoring have been used during the course of the investigation. Due to its impact on multiple states, this investigation was designated an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) investigation. The investigation has resulted in a total of 49 arrests and prosecutions, including the defendants charged as part of the Gamboa organization. Additionally, the two-year investigation has resulted in the seizure of 22 pounds of methamphetamine, 10 firearms, $5,000 in currency, and four cars and two motorcycles valued at $25,000.
For each count in the indictment, defendants face the following maximum penalties: (1) conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine—20 years in prison and a $1 million fine or 30 years in prison and a $2 million fine if the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony; (2) distribution of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine—life in prison and a $10 million fine or life in prison and up to a $20 million fine if the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony; (3) distribution of more than 50 grams of a methamphetamine mixture—40 years in prison and a $5 million fine or life in prison and a $8 million fine if the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony; (4) distribution of methamphetamine—20 years in prison and a $1 million fine or thirty years in prison and a $2 million fine if the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony; (5) possession with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine—life in prison and a $10 million fine or life in prison and a $20 million fine if the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony; (6) use of a cell phone to commit the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine—four years in prison and a $250,000 fine or eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine if the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony; (7) unlawful reentry by a removed alien—two years in prison and a $250,000 fine or 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Duty Task Force Group, which includes DEA, ATF, and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents and Task Force Officers from Fort Smith Police Department, Van Buren Police Department, and the 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force. The investigation was assisted by the United States Marshals Service, Leflore County Drug Task Force, Leflore County Prosecutor’s Office, Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office, and Sebastian County Prosecutor’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Candace Taylor and Clay Fowlkes are prosecuting the case for the United States.
The charges in the 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.
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