News and Press Releases



October 25, 2013


Bentonville, Arkansas - Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that 11 individuals have been charged with offenses stemming from drug trafficking this week. The charges include conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and distribution of methamphetamine. The investigation, known as “Operation West End Gambler” began in August of 2012 as an investigation into a drug trafficking organization operating in Northwest Arkansas. Operation West End Gambler has so far resulted in the seizure of a total of over 20 pounds of methamphetamine and over $60,000 in United States Currency. Joining in this announcement were William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Van Stone, Prosecuting Attorney for the Nineteenth Judicial District West of Arkansas; Kelly Cradduck, Benton County Sheriff; and Kathy O’Kelly, Springdale Police Department Chief of Police.

United States Attorney Eldridge commented, “Drug trafficking organizations remain a serious threat to our communities, in Northwest Arkansas and across the Western District. These criminal enterprises bring crime into our communities and drugs onto our streets. We will remain vigilant in investigating and prosecuting this activity.”

Agent Bryant stated, “This investigation is a prime example of outstanding teamwork between federal, state, and local agencies in targeting major drug trafficking organizations involved in the distribution of methamphetamine ice. Through this collaborative effort of law enforcement agencies, this drug trafficking organization was dismantled and six pounds of methamphetamine ice seized was not distributed on the streets in Northwest Arkansas.”

On October 21, 2013, law enforcement agents working with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and the Springdale Police Department executed four search warrants on three residences and a storage unit in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. The search warrants resulted in the seizure of approximately six pounds of methamphetamine, two firearms, and $18,845.00 in United States Currency. The agents also arrested seven individuals who have been charged in a recent criminal complaint alleging that they conspired with each other and others to distribute methamphetamine in Northwest Arkansas.

Operation West End Gambler began with the arrest of Arturo Vaca-Raya of Springdale, Arkansas, in December of 2012. Vaca-Raya was found to be in possession of over 15 pounds of methamphetamine and a large quantity of United States Currency. On September 5, 2013, Vaca-Raya was sentenced to forty years in prison for possession of more than 500 grams of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The investigation continued after Vaca-Raya’s arrest when Ricardo Clemente Ruiz, aka Ricardo Pulido-Clemente, was identified as a distributor of large quantities of methamphetamine in Siloam Springs and Springdale.

The following seven individuals were arrested and charged in a Federal Criminal Complaint on October 21, 2013: Ricardo Pulido-Clemente, age 42, Martha Pulido, age 19, Davna Hoepfner, age 36, Suzanne Hathorn, age 53, Alex Fernandez, age 40, Leonel Padilla, age 26, Michael Stanfill, age 43. These individuals appeared before Magistrate Judge Erin L. Setser today for their initial appearance.

The following four individuals were arrested and charged in State Court on October 21, 2013: Leeroy Creekmore age 53, Angel Asucedo, age 19, Erica Murguia, age 22, Gabriel Romero, age 20.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration Fayetteville Task Force, composed of DEA Special Agents and Task Force Officers from the Benton County Sheriff’s Department, Fayetteville Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Rogers Police Department, and Springdale Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Clay Fowlkes and Brandon Carter are prosecuting the cases for the United States.

The charges in the complaint 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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The Office of U.S. Attorney
Conner Eldridge
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