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Wednesday, May 24, 2017
FBI, Little Rock Police break up major drug ring, 52 arrested
(From the Department of Justice)
Patrick C. Harris, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Kenton Buckner, Chief of Little Rock Police Department (LRPD), and Mike Davis, Chief of North Little Rock Police Department (NLRPD) announced today the unsealing of multiple federal indictments following the successful conclusion of an early morning operation that resulted in the arrests of dozens of accused drug and gun dealers in central Arkansas.
Wednesday morning’s operation culminated an 18-month joint investigation into several drug-trafficking organizations, primarily in Little Rock. Twenty-five people were arrested today—joining the 27 people indicted who were already in custody—while nine individuals remain at large. Fifty of the 61 defendants are from Little Rock.
Eight indictments were unsealed Wednesday, including five that alleged drug conspiracies. The largest involved a 33-defendant, 67-count indictment alleging heroin and cocaine conspiracies, both headed by Aaron “Black” Clark, 33, of Little Rock. Other indictments allege cocaine and crack cocaine conspiracies, and contain multiple methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine possession and distribution charges, as well as multiple gun charges.
The defendants arrested today will have initial appearances and enter pleas before United States Magistrate Judge Tricia. S. Harris on Friday. Judge Harris will see those who were already in custody on Wednesday, May 31.
“Targeting violent drug dealers remains a priority for my office, as well as for all law enforcement agencies in central Arkansas,” Acting U.S. Attorney Harris said. “Drugs continue to be a prime source of crime and violence in our city, and taking these criminals off the streets has made Little Rock a safer place. A major operation like this is not possible without the help of all agencies involved, particularly the FBI and the Little Rock and North Little Rock Police Departments. And while today’s operation represents a victory against dangerous criminals, it in no way ends our coordinated efforts to ease crime in Little Rock and improve the lives and security of law-abiding citizens in our city.”
In late 2015, the FBI and NLRPD began investigating the drug-trafficking activities of certain North Little Rock gangs. Investigators soon learned the gangs’ source of supply of drugs came from individuals in Little Rock. Through the use of several investigative tactics, including the controlled purchases of drugs, multiple wiretaps, and the execution of search warrants, among other methods, agents with the FBI and LRPD located and identified multiple drug sources of supply, and more than 60 suspects.
Eventually, in November 2016, agents executed a search warrant at the west Little Rock residence of Clark. Agents seized more than $100,000 cash and jewelry, 170 grams of heroin, a marijuana grow operation, and six firearms.
“Today’s arrests show our collective resolve to attack and dismantle these violent drug organizations that destroy our communities and generate fear in its citizens,” FBI SAC Upchurch said. “The FBI and our partners at the United States Attorney’s Office, Little Rock Police Department, North Little Rock Police Department, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas National Guard, and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office will remain committed to identifying drug traffickers and removing them from the streets to protect our cities.”
Throughout the investigation, agents seized more than two kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of heroin, more than a pound each of crack cocaine and methamphetamine, and eight ounces of fentanyl. Officers seized these drugs during more than 25 controlled purchases, as well as during the execution of multiple search warrants. In addition, agents seized 25 guns and approximately $241,000 of drug proceeds.
In addition to the work by the FBI’s Met Rock Task Force, local law enforcement assisted in the case. LRPD, for example, was familiar with many of individuals in the drug-trafficking organizations targeted in these federal indictments, and joined the FBI in making the arrests of these defendants a priority.
“Today, the Little Rock Police Department received some much needed assistance from the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office,” LRPD Chief Buckner said. “Our collaboration resulted in the indictment of many problem individuals within our city. LRPD is very appreciative of this ongoing partnership—with special thanks to Diane Upchurch and Pat Harris—and will continue to work with our federal partners in the future. This is another example of the work performed as a result of our participation in the Violence Reduction Network.”
“The North Little Rock Police Department initiated an investigation into the illegal sale of cocaine in our city that then revealed the illegal sale of methamphetamine, heroin, and weapons around central Arkansas,” NLRPD Chief Davis said. “The NLRPD contacted the FBI to assist with this investigation. We are grateful for the outcome, and will continue to work with federal agencies to reduce violence in our community and to take illegal drugs and weapons off the streets.”
Several agencies, including the Arkansas State Police, National Guard, and Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, who each provided manpower and logistical support during the early-morning takedown, also combined to help make the Wednesday morning arrests.
“The Arkansas State Police acknowledges the significance of good teamwork,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police. “The efforts of a multi-jurisdictional team paid off today by stopping these individuals from further criminal acts and strengthening the public’s trust and respect of law enforcement officers who work together to make our cities and towns safer places to live.”
“The National Guard stands shoulder to shoulder in supporting law enforcement to contain the heroin epidemic facing our communities and state,” National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Vereen said. “Our Counter Drug Program is dedicated to help keep children and families safe, we are all in!”
The primary investigation was conducted by FBI’s Met Rock Task Force, in coordination with the LRPD and NLRPD. Also assisting Wednesday’s operation was the Arkansas State Police, the National Guard, and the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Benecia Moore is the lead prosecutor on the indictments.
An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Indictments unsealed Wednesday
U. S. v. Aaron Laray Clark, et al – 4:17-cr-00111-JM Aaron Laray Clark a/k/a “Black”, 35, Little Rock^^^ Hector Soto, 54, El Paso, Texas*** Elijah Alexander, III, 27, Little Rock*** Jason Michael Banks, 45, Little Rock^^^ John Webster Batton, 38, Searcy^^^ Carlos Eugene Burton, 37, Little Rock Shannon Allen Cathey, 41, Little Rock Jeremy Donte Craig, 33, Springdale^^^ Jabari Zaki Cummins, 39, Little Rock Abreana Laray Daniels, 23, Little Rock*** Lekedric M. Davis, 31, Little Rock Martin Drew Dehaven, 28, Little Rock Kevin Dwane Dixon, 36, Little Rock Alicia Lauren Fullington, 34, Little Rock^^^ Joseph Jamar Handy, 34, Little Rock Desmond Kentrell Kelley, 23, Little Rock Lowell John Ladd, 28, Little Rock^^^ Henry Lionell Lee a/k/a “Red”, 43, Little Rock Antonio L. Lewis, 28, Benton^^^ Dalvin D. Lewis, 40, Little Rock Marlon Shawn Marbley, Sr. a/k/a “Mob”, 45, Little Rock^^^ Jamal Cornell McCoy, 42, Little Rock*** Kwesi Okang Montague, 38, Little Rock^^^ Rachel Elizabeth Moore, 29, Little Rock^^^ Lucas Todd Murray, 33, Little Rock Christopher S. Newman, Jr., 26, Jacksonville*** Roderick O. Rainey, 46, Little Rock^^^ Benson Dubois Smith, 31, Little Rock Christopher Forsean Smith, 33, North Little Rock Timothy Dewann Smith, 30, Little Rock*** Lionell Tidwell, 41, Greenbriar^^^ Davaris Daquante Whitehead, 26, North Little Rock^^^ Bryan Deshawn Young, 29, North Little Rock^^^
U. S. v. Marcus Jermaine Buckner, et al – 4:17-cr-00110-DPM Marcus Jermaine Buckner, 35, Little Rock Antonio Louis Bumpers, 28, Little Rock*** Marcus J. Clark, 40, Little Rock Willie Craig, III, 42, Little Rock^^^ Alvin Dean Withers, Jr., 32, Little Rock^^^
U. S. v. Thaddeus Eugene Higgins, Jr. et al – 4:17-cr-00113-KGB Thaddeus Eugene Higgins, Jr., 28, Little Rock Fabian A. Bridgewater, 37, Little Rock Laquina Rena Cheatham, 35, Little Rock^^^ Rodrick Deshawn Cunningham, 38, Little Rock*** Henry Lee Dupree, Jr., 68, Little Rock^^^ Courtney Ray Foster, 34, Little Rock Brandon Deshawn Higgins, 21, Little Rock^^^ Brian Lamont Higgins, 34, Little Rock Charles Bernard Higgins, 37, Little Rock^^^ William Frank Jones, 57, Pine Bluff^^^ Clarence Edward Walker, Jr., 28, Little Rock
U. S. v. Jeremiah Hollis, Sr. a/k/a “Trigg”, et al – 4:17-cr-00114-DPM Jeremiah Hollis, Sr. a/k/a “Trigg”, 40, Little Rock^^^ Regina Evette Nelson, 47, Little Rock Abdulah Farig Woods, 31, Little Rock
U. S. v. Antonio Malone a/k/a “Greenlight”, et al – 4:17-cr-00116-DPM Antonio Lamont Malone a/k/a “Greenlight”, 37, Little Rock^^^ Christopher Bernard Bell a/k/a “Boonie”, 27, Little Rock Antonio Dewayne Harris a/k/a “Big Yoke”, 37, Little Rock Judge Lee Daniels, 26, Little Rock Michael Princeton Marshall, 31, Little Rock Terrence Edward Wright, 39, Little Rock
U. S. v. Hillary Ann Harmon – 4:17-cr-00112-BSM Hillary Ann Harmon, 34, Little Rock^^^
U. S. v. Aaron William Lyman – 4:17-cr-00115-KGB Aaron William Lyman, 36, North Little Rock^^^
U. S. v. Benjamin S. Schreiber – 4:17-cr-00117-BRW Benjamin S. Schreiber, 32, Little Rock***