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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Three Osceola Defendants Facing Federal Drug and Firearms Charges in Ongoing Investigation

LITTLE ROCK—Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the FBI, announced today the unsealing of a federal indictment and arrests of three defendants charged with committing federal drug and firearms offenses in Osceola.

James Cordell Scott, 30, and Sedrick Askew, 36, both of Osceola, were arrested Tuesday in their hometown. Marquette Lamar Smith, 38, also of Osceola, was arrested in Fayetteville. Askew and Scott appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe on Tuesday for plea and arraignment. Smith will make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin L. Wiedemann in the Western District of Arkansas on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m., and will then appear before Judge Volpe for plea and arraignment at a later date.

The arrests resulted from the continuation of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, Operation Blynd Justice, worked jointly with the FBI, Second Judicial District Drug Task Force, Blytheville Police Department, Osceola Police Department, and Arkansas Community Correction. During the course of the investigation in 2017, law enforcement utilized a Title III court-authorized wiretap, intercepting hundreds of drug-trafficking calls. Law enforcement agents conducted controlled buys totaling more than 200 grams of crack cocaine, and during search warrants executed in Osceola in August 2017, seized two loaded firearms, and quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and approximately $1,500 in cash.

“If you illegally possess guns and drugs in the Eastern District of Arkansas, we are coming for you,” Hiland said. “The individuals arrested this morning endangered and poisoned the Osceola community, and it is my hope that the law-abiding citizens of that community can rest a little easier tonight. But, to be clear, there is work that remains to be done and we intend to do it.”

Based on the investigation, it is alleged that between January and August 2017, Marquette Lamar Smith, Sedrick Askew, and James Cordell Scott distributed crack cocaine and cocaine in Osceola, including from a highly-trafficked “yellow house” on Second Street in Osceola. The investigation continued after August 2017 and is ongoing, with more arrests expected.

“Today’s arrests play an important role in keeping our communities safe,” FBI SAC Upchurch said. “We will continue to focus on violent offenders who bring illegal drugs and guns into our neighborhoods. We appreciate the efforts of the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District, the Second Judicial District Drug Task Force, Blytheville Police Department, Osceola Police Department, and Arkansas Community Correction. Together, we are committed to identifying and removing these dangerous criminals from our communities.”

“I am very pleased with the arrests made this morning and I am very appreciative of the hard work that went into this investigation,” Osceola Police Chief Ollie Collins said. “This type of investigation is made possible by the cooperative efforts of our local, state, and federal agencies. The long hours and dedicated investigative work that made this investigation possible is indicative of our commitment to making our streets safer. Drug sales and the associated crime has saturated our communities for far too long. The Osceola Police Department and the Second Judicial District Drug Task Force will continue to cooperate with our federal partners in our efforts to disrupt the supply and sales of controlled substances in our city.”

The charges in today’s unsealed indictment include conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine; distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and felon in possession of a firearm. The maximum penalty for the drug charges is not less than five years in prison, not more than 40 years, and a $5,000,000 fine. Possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime has a minimum sentence of five years, and a maximum of life, and the maximum penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm in not more than 10 years’ imprisonment.

The case, docketed as Case No. 4:18CR00325 DPM, is pending before U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall, with a trial scheduled for July 30, 2018.

The investigation was conducted by FBI, the Second Judicial District Drug Task Force, Blytheville Police Department, Osceola Police Department, and Arkansas Community Correction. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Peters.

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

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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, is available on-line at
http://www.justice.gov/edar

Twitter:
@EDARNEWS

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated June 12, 2018