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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Arkansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Arrests Dismantle Clinton-based Drug Trafficking Organization

LITTLE ROCK, AR Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas; along with David Downing, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); 20th Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland; and Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley announced an investigation into a large-scale drug trafficking organization based in Clinton resulted in the early-morning arrests of multiple defendants on charges involving possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, and weapons possession. Ten of the defendants were already in state custody on separate charges.

“Today, a major drug trafficking organization in Van Buren County was dismantled,” stated Thyer. “This organization put the citizens and children of Clinton and the surrounding community at risk every day. Through the efforts of law enforcement at all levels, we have brought federal charges against these drug-dealing criminals to get them off and keep them off the streets for years to come.”

“Methamphetamine destroys the lives of its abusers and has far-reaching negative effects in the communities where it takes hold,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Downing. “By targeting local distribution networks in Arkansas, DEA and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners are working to reduce overall crime and improve the quality of life for area residents. The numerous arrests and seizures in this investigation are the result of our close cooperation and part of our on-going efforts to ensure that drug traffickers are held responsible for the harm they cause.”

Prosecutor Cody Hiland added, “today's arrests are the culmination of an 18 month criminal investigation that began with a local tire shop in Clinton. I think today's operation certainly highlights the value of our local drug task forces and the virtue of working with other state and federal law enforcement agencies in helping make our communities more safe. The operation today is historic in scope and size and its impact on the illegal drug trade in Van Buren County will continue to be felt in the years to come.”

The DEA and 20th Judicial Drug Task Force investigation began in January 2011. Multiple undercover operations and numerous other law enforcement actions, including multiple seizures of methamphetamine were used during the investigation. All told, the Task Force purchased and seized more than 6 pounds of methamphetamine from the Jeffery Weaver drug trafficking organization (DTO) through controlled purchases and search warrants. The DEA and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) also seized a total of 52 firearms. In addition, the defendants charged in the indictment are responsible for distributing or possessing over 300 pounds of methamphetamine.

The indictment, unsealed this afternoon, was handed down by a Federal Grand Jury on September 11, 2014. The indictment charges 34 defendants in 45 separate counts. The counts include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine, felon in possession of firearms, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and the use of telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.

If convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine each defendant will face a sentence of not less than 10 years to life imprisonment.

The investigation and prosecution of this case is a coordinated effort through the David G. Wilhelm OCDETF Strike Force and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and was conducted by the DEA and the 20th Judicial Drug Task Force with assistance from several law enforcement agencies including the ATF, Arkansas State Police, Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas National Guard, Conway Police Department, and the United States Marshal Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kristin Bryant and Stephanie Mazzanti.

An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


WEAVER DTO INDICTMENT

DEFENDANTS/CHARGES

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine:

  • JEFFERY WEAVER;
  • BRIAN MAHANEY;
  • RICHARD BRIAN REYNOLDS;
  • NATHAN LESTER RAMER;
  • CHARLES NEIL WEAVER;
  • MEGAN RILEY OXLEY;
  • JAMES ZACHARY CALDWELL;
  • ISAAC DE JESUS JAUREGUI-ESTRADA;
  • ISAAC M JAUREGUI,
  • MICHAEL ALLEN, aka Hippie;
  • JENNIFER JAMES;
  • JEREMY LEE PECK;
  • JOHN B. BLACK;
  • DAVID WAYNE HEASLET;
  • KIM DAVIDSON;
  • JEREMY DALE DUNIGAN;
  • CYRUS ADRIAN DOWELL;
  • MARNI LEIGH CHAGALA;
  • JERALD GLENN BELL;
  • AMBER SUE THARP;
  • JAMES PERRY KNOTT, aka Uncle Jimmy
  • JANEL DAWN HATCHETT
Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine but less than 500 grams:
  • SORRELL JOE HONEA, JR.,
  • RICHARD JOE LEE,
  • LOUIS MICHAEL TICHELI,
  • CRYSTAL MICHELLE LANGRELL,
  • FRED HAROLD WESSELL,
  • JOSH DENHAM,
  • THURMAN KIRKENDOLL,
  • DENNIS PATRICK HENNEBERRY,
  • DEREK CHARLES STILL,
  • HIRO SASAKI, and
  • DON ALLEN PEARSON

Felon in possession of a firearm:

  • NATHAN LESTER RAMER
  • JAMES ZACHARY CALDWELL
  • DENNIS PATRICK HENNEBERRY
  • MICHAEL ALLEN

Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense:

  • MICHAEL ALLEN
  • JENNIFER JAMES
  • ISAAC M. JAUREGUI
  • ISAAC DE JESUS JAUREGUI-ESTRADA
  • JAMES ZACHARY CALDWELL

Use of a communication facility:

  • CRYSTAL MICHELLE LANGRELL
  • CHARLES NEIL WEAVER
  • SORRELL JOE HONEA, JR.
  • JEFFERY WEAVER

STATUTORY SENTENCES

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine is punishable by not less than 10 years, not more than life, incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $10,000,000, and not less than 5 years supervised release.

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute more than 50 grams but less than 500 grams of methamphetamine is punishable by not less than 5 years, not more than 40 years’ incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $5,000,000, and not less than 4 years supervised release.

Possession of a firearm by a felon is punishable by not more than 20 years’ incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $250,000, and not more than 3 years supervised release.

Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense is punishable by not less than 5 years to life incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons, consecutive to any sentence imposed, with a possible fine of up to $250,000, and not more than 5 years of supervised release.

Use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug trafficking crime is punishable by not more than 4 years’ incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $250,000, and not more than 1 year supervised release.

Updated July 14, 2015