Twenty-seven were arrested today in Russellville and the surrounding area, along with over 25 pounds of methamphetamine and 69 guns seized, during an early-morning raid by federal, state, police and sheriff’s officers. The raids were the result of a federal indictment being unsealed, charging 44 defendants. The indictment was, it was announced, to “disrupt drug and gun crime in Pope and Yell counties,” the result of a finding by a federal grand jury Oct. 3.
The case has 70 defendants, some of whom are being charged in state courts, with 18 federal and two state defendants already in custody. Eleven federal and 12 state fugitives remain at large.
The announcement was made at a press conference this afternoon headed by Cody Hiland, who was sworn in yesterday at United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Hiland had been 20th Judicial District prosecutor, which included Van Buren County. Hiland had been nominated for the United States Attorney position June 29, and was confirmed by the Senate Sept. 28.
Also participating in the announcement were Anthony Lemons, Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), William McCrary, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, New Orleans Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives (ATF), and David Gibbons, Prosecuting Attorney for the Fifth Judicial District of Arkansas, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of the investigation leading to today’s arrests and seizures.
Today’s arrest and seizure was the culmination of a two year investigation, during which local, state and federal agencies made controlled methamphetamine purchases. Nine of the defendants named were declared as “avowed white supremacists” with affiliations with groups which began as prison gangs.
Also seized was $65,000 which the drug trafficking organization was going to mail as payment to its California suppliers.
Additional arrest warrants have been issued for two of the main methamphetamine suppliers, both in California. A Porsche Carrera in California, used in drug distribution, was also seized.
Charges included drug possession and distribution, felon in possession of a firearm, and use of a firearm in relation to drug trafficking. Those arrested today will be arraigned 10 a.m. Friday at the federal court in Little Rock.