Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and Val Parlave, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI announced today that a federal grand jury returned one indictment containing 190 counts and charging sixty-six individuals in the Texarkana, Arkansas area with a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy and other crimes.
The indictment was unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Texarkana, Arkansas. In addition, 8 other defendants were charged in federal or state court. The investigation, Operation State Line Sweep, resulted in 41 arrests today by local, state, and federal law enforcement as part of a roundup of the charged Defendants.
All Sixty-Six Defendants named in the indictment are charged with conspiracy to distribute crack-cocaine. In addition, the separate defendants face charges ranging from felon in possession of a firearm to possession with intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances including crack-cocaine and methamphetamine. The indictment also alleges that controlled substances were distributed within 1,000 feet of five public schools, five public housing facilities, and one public playground.
“This case indicates that we are serious about working together to investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations that put our communities in jeopardy by engaging in drug trafficking and other crimes,” commented Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. “Many of these Defendants placed children at risk by selling drugs in close proximity to schools, public housing, and a playground. I appreciate the cooperation among local, state, and federal law enforcement and prosecutors to bring this case. We will continue to work together to identify, investigate and prosecute criminal activity such as this, and ensure that our streets–in Texarkana, South Arkansas, and throughout the Western District–are safe.”
Val Parlave, Special Agent in Charge of the Arkansas Federal Bureau of Investigation commented, “This investigation represents a coordinated effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement to target those who traffic in drugs and put our citizens and particularly our children at risk by selling them in our communities. This multi-agency case represents a collaborative effort focused on cleaning up our streets and neighborhoods throughout Southwestern Arkansas and Northeast Texas. This operation shows that we, at all levels of law enforcement, are committed to working together to eliminate these types of drug organizations and hold those involved in them accountable for their illegal activities.”
The defendants who were arrested today will appear before United States Magistrate Judge Barry A. Bryant starting this afternoon and continuing on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.
The case is styled as: United States v. Lewis, et al, Case No 4:11CR40032-001-066. This case was investigated by the FBI Violent Gang Safe Streets Task Force, the Texarkana, Arkansas Police Department, the Texarkana, Texas Police Department, the Miller County Sheriff’s Office, the Bi-State Narcotics Task Force and the Arkansas State Police. Other agencies assisting in the arrest operation include: the South Central Drug Task Force, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Arkansas Tobacco Control and the Texas State Comptroller’s Office. The statutory sentences for the crimes charged in this indictment range from five years up to life imprisonment, with fines ranging from up to $250,000 to $20 million.
An indictment is merely an accusation. An arrest warrant represents a finding of probable cause. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.