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Press Release

Jonesboro-Area Drug Trafficking Leader Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, along with Matthew Barden, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced today that Joseph Farrell, 39, of Jonesboro, the leader of a multistate drug-trafficking organization, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

United States District Court Judge D.P. Marshall, Jr., sentenced Farrell to 300 months in federal prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, for his role in helping distribute more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine in and around the Jonesboro area. On Wednesday Judge Marshall also sentenced Jesus Cisneros, 46, of San Jose, Calif., to 188 months in prison and five years of supervised release for his role in the conspiracy. Cisneros was one of Farrell’s main sources of methamphetamine.

"Mr. Farrell led a sophisticated, widespread drug organization that put dozens of pounds of methamphetamine into our local communities, enough to poison entire towns," Thyer said. "These defendants today received significant sentences for significant crimes. This office is committed to stopping large-scale drug traffickers and protecting our communities from these criminals."

The indictment charging Farrell and Cisneros, along with 20 other co-conspirators, was handed down by a federal grand jury on October 8, 2014. The investigation that led to the indictment included multiple undercover operations and numerous other law enforcement actions. During the investigation the DEA seized approximately 96 pounds of methamphetamine, which had an estimated street value of more than $1.9 million. Information gathered during the investigation indicated this organization distributed more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine.

Farrell was dealing methamphetamine primarily in the Jonesboro area, selling between 5 and 15 pounds of meth per week. Farrell had sources of supply for methamphetamine in both Blytheville and San Jose, California, and he occasionally received shipments of methamphetamine and marijuana from his source in California through FedEx.

"The combined law enforcement actions that came to bear over the course of this investigation was not by accident, but the result of a strategic and coordinated effort to combat the large-scale methamphetamine trafficking organization managed by Joseph Ferrell," Barden said. "With Ferrell’s 25-year federal prison sentence, this should be a message to those who want to sell drugs—we are going to catch you and put you in prison for a long time if you distribute this poison in our communities. The DEA and all of our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively investigate, disrupt, and dismantle ruthless criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking and the associated criminal networks that partner with them."

To date, 19 of the original 22 defendants have pleaded guilty. Two defendants have been dismissed from the indictment, and one—Vidal Almonte-Cervantes—is still a wanted fugitive.

The investigation was conducted by the DEA, with assistance from multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Jonesboro Police Department, the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, and United States Marshal Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Benecia Moore.

Updated August 17, 2016

Drug Trafficking