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Press Release

15 Defendants Arrested Following Drug Trafficking Investigation and Roundup

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

            Fort Smith, Arkansas – Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas; L. Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI; and David Ethredge, Prosecuting Attorney for the Fourteenth Judicial District of Arkansas, announced that fifteen individuals were arrested today by local, state, and federal law enforcement as part of a roundup following an over year-long investigation into methamphetamine trafficking in Boone, Baxter, Searcy, Newton, Benton and Washington Counties in Arkansas, and the states of Missouri and Oklahoma.   Eleven defendants were arrested on federal charges and four were arrested on state charges. Three additional defendants, Juan Delacruz Albarran, Juan Ramirez Vargas and Joseph Macormick Elder had already been arrested on federal charges and are in custody. Law enforcement also executed seven federal and 4 state search warrants in Arkansas and one federal search warrant in Missouri.

            On October 5, 2016, a federal grand jury returned three (3) separate indictments charging 19 individuals in the Harrison, Arkansas and Missouri area with a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy.  The indictments included a total of 37 counts, all of which involved the distribution of methamphetamine.  The indictments were unsealed today.  

            “Today’s arrests reflect our commitment to removing criminal organizations trafficking methamphetamine into our communities throughout Arkansas,” stated Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge with the FBI in Little Rock.  “We must be diligent and wipe out these networks in Arkansas.  We appreciate the efforts of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and the state and federal prosecutors who faithfully work to reduce overall crime and improve the quality of life for Arkansans.”

            David Ethridge, Prosecuting Attorney for the 14th Judicial District of Arkansas commented, “I would like to thank the many law enforcement officers that worked so hard and so long on this investigation.  By combining resources and working together, we were able to accomplish what none of us could have otherwise accomplished on our own.” 

            The federal defendants who were arrested today will appear in the United States District in Fort Smith before United States Magistrate Judge Mark Ford early next week. 

            This was a joint investigation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the 14th Judicial Drug Task Force, the 14th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Arkansas State Police, the Boone County Sheriff, the Newton County Sheriff, the Searcy County Sheriff, the Carroll County Sheriff, the Baxter County Sheriff, the Washington County Sheriff, the McDonald County, Missouri Sheriff, the Harrison Police Department, the Springdale Police Department, the Arkansas National Guard, the United States Marshal’s Office, the Mayes County, Oklahoma District Attorney’s Office, and the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA). Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Carter is prosecuting the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

            An Indictment is merely an accusation. An arrest warrant represents a finding of probable cause that a person has committed a criminal offense. 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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Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website @



Updated October 27, 2016

Drug Trafficking