Thirty-eight suspects were arrested Wednesday in a sting operation the 20th Judicial Drug Task Force assisted with.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Christopher R. Thyer, Drug Enforcement Agency Assistant Special Agent in Charge Matthew Barden, Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland, Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley and Faulkner County Sheriff Matt Rice announced the arrests, which were the second round in a Clinton-based drug trafficking organization in what authorities are calling Operation Ice Storm.
"The early-morning raid led to arrests of 18 federal defendants and 20 state defendants on charges involving conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, and use of a communication facility to facilitate drug trafficking," Bradley said in a news release. "Eighteen of the 19 defendants named in a federal indictment are in custody, with one defendant still at large in California. Three of the federal defendants were already in state custody on separate charges, and eight state defendants are still at large."
U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray held initial appearances for the federal defendants on Thursday.
Operation Ice Storm began in 2011. In the first round of arrests, 54 suspects were taken into custody on state and federal charges Sept. 24, 2014.
"During the second phase of Operation Ice Storm investigators used numerous law enforcement actions, including multiple undercover operations and court-authorized Title III wiretaps," Bradley said. "All told, the second phase of Operation Ice Storm resulted in the seizure of approximately 123 pounds of methamphetamine, one pound of heroin, multiple firearms, and approximately $138,000 in drug proceeds."
Approximately 8.5 pounds of methamphetamine, 52 grams of heroin, 16 guns and $24,085 in suspected drug money was seized during Wednesday morning’s operation.
"This operation represents the important work our drug task force agencies do on a daily basis," Hiland said. "It also reflects what can happen when you have a good working relationship with your federal counterparts and other agencies."
The suspects could face prison sentences of 10 years to life if convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.
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