Oklahoma City police, FBI arrest nine on drug trafficking complaints

December 2, 2011
Ventura Esquivel-Ochoa

The Washington Post on December 2, 2011 released the following:

Oklahoma City police and FBI agents arrested nine people and seized cocaine and methamphetamine Thursday in connection with drug trafficking activity, an FBI spokesman said.

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Oklahoma City police and FBI agents arrested nine people and seized cocaine and methamphetamine Thursday in connection with drug trafficking activity, an FBI spokesman said.

Agents seized 14 kilograms of cocaine, seven pounds of methamphetamine, six guns and about $40,000 in cash after serving search warrants at homes throughout Oklahoma City. FBI spokesman Clay Simmonds said those arrested could face a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Arrested were: Mario Alvarez Espinoza, 29; Chris Edwin Thrift, 50; Jose Alfredo Sanchez-Higuera, 48; Saul Sanchez, 27; Jaime Torres, 45; and Joe Bernard Curtis, 35. The names of three other people arrested were not released Thursday by authorities.

Officials are still looking for Eduardo Higuera-Sanchez, 47, and Ventura Esquival-Ochoa, 54, both of Oklahoma City. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to call the FBI at 290-7770 or Oklahoma City police at 316-6830. Callers can remain anonymous.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Fugitive David Britto may be out of reach of American authorities forever

September 9, 2011

Sun Sentinel on September 8, 2011 released the following:

“Fugitive cop who fled to Brazil likely to avoid extradition

By Megan O’Matz and Jerome Burdi, Sun Sentinel

BOYNTON BEACH— Fugitive David Britto may be out of reach of American authorities forever.

This city’s former Police Officer of the Year was under house arrest, awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges, when he cut the electronic monitoring bracelet from his ankle Aug. 24 and hopped on a plane in Miami, bound for his native country, Brazil, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Brazil’s constitution prohibits the extradition of Brazilian nationals.

“Basically he’s gone unless the Brazilian government, through political pressure, allows U.S. agents to pick him up,” said attorney David Rowe, an adjunct law professor at the University of Miami and an extradition expert.

Britto, 28, appears to have successfully gambled on a high-stakes escape, rather than risk facing years in prison. He is to stand trial beginning Tuesday.

The daring run, however, raises questions about how he pulled it off and who, if anyone, helped him.

On Thursday, the U.S. Marshals Service, which is spearheading the hunt for Britto, said federal agents are looking at every possible way of getting Britto back to Miami, where he faces one count of conspiring to possess and traffic 500 grams of methamphetamine.

“We’re still pursuing him,” Marshals Service spokesman Barry Golden said. “He’s one of the big cases that are on the top of our list … We’re still tracking down every lead. We’re trying to get him back into custody at all costs.”

Attempts to get Britto back are sure to be challenging, if not downright impossible.

A 1964 treaty between the United States and Brazil allows for the extradition of anyone accused or convicted of a crime carrying a sentence of a year or more.

But in 1988, Brazil amended its constitution, expressly stating that “no Brazilian shall be extradited.”

People born elsewhere who become Brazilian citizens, however, can be handed over if they’re charged with certain drug-related crimes. Foreigners who find safe harbor in Brazil and are accused of political crimes elsewhere are not extradited.

The strict policy has strained Brazil’s diplomatic relations.

Earlier this summer Italy denounced Brazil for refusing to turn over political refugee Cesare Battisti, a former Italian militant, convicted in absentia of killing four people in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s refusal to extradite an Ohio woman, Claudia Hoerig, charged in the 2007 murder of her husband, has outraged an Ohio congressman.

U.S. Rep. Timothy Ryan, a Democrat, introduced legislation in June to withhold $14 million a year in aid to Brazil until it reverses its ban on extraditing nationals. The bill is in a House committee.

Ryan has gone so far as to post an ever-changing clock on his website, showing the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds that Hoerig “has escaped justice.” On Thursday, it registered 1,641 days.

“It’s been a nightmare experience on our end up here,” Trumbull County, Ohio, Prosecuting Attorney Dennis Wilkins said of efforts to extradite Hoerig. “I’ve dealt with President [George W.] Bush, Condoleezza Rice, the attorney general and now with [President Barack] Obama and Hillary Clinton, and we’ve not gotten satisfactory action.”

In Florida, the tamper alert on Britto’s ankle bracelet went off the night of Aug. 24, notifying a federal probation officer, according to court records. But U.S. Marshals were not told until the next morning. Only then was a warrant was issued for his arrest, authorities said.

That gave Britto a window of time to escape.

“You cannot respond the next morning. That’s a major security breach,” said Rowe, the University of Miami law professor.

Court documents say Britto, who speaks Portuguese, boarded a plane Aug. 24 in Miami bound for Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.

It is unclear what documentation he used to board the international flight.

As a standard condition of bond, Britto had to relinquish “all passports and travel documents” to the Pretrial Services Office.

“Mr. Britto’s Brazilian passport was revoked as a standard condition of release by the court,” said Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman in Washington.

Britto was free on a $100,000 bond. He and his mother signed for half the bond and the other half was guaranteed by bailbonds.com, a Miami company.

Britto may be able to live out his days in Brazil, but he likely is landlocked, said Douglas McNabb, whose Washington, D.C., firm specializes in international extradition law.

Federal authorities likely will file a lifetime “red notice” with Interpol’s 188 member countries that will trigger Britto’s arrest if he leaves Brazil.

“He may leave Brazil a month from now or 30 years from now and go to Costa Rica,” McNabb said. “And when he goes through customs, his red notice [shows up].”

That’s what happened to director Roman Polanski, who was arrested in 2009 in Switzerland after being wanted by the United States since 1978 on a statutory-rape conviction. He hid in France, avoiding extradition countries, until he was captured. Polanski was freed by Swiss authorities on a legal technicality the following year.

It’s unknown if someone helped Britto reach Brazil.

According to his website, http://www.blessedwarrior.com, he was born in Brazil and moved to Queens, N.Y., when he was 7.

He joined the Boynton Beach police in 2006.

The Police Department still has an open internal investigation into Britto’s escape, but he’s likely to be fired soon, police said Thursday.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Neal Indravadan Desai and Patrick Fernand Brupbacher Sentenced In Beaumont Federal Court to Federal Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

August 11, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Texas on August 10, 2011 released the following:

“Houston Men Sentenced In Federal Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

BEAUMONT, Texas – U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced that two Houston men have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a major drug trafficking conspiracy. The sentencing hearings were held today before U.S. District Judge Ron Clark in the Eastern District of Texas.

Neal Indravadan Desai, 37, of Houston, pleaded guilty on Feb. 1, 2011, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and was sentenced to 151 months in federal prison today.

Patrick Fernand Brupbacher, 34, of Houston, pleaded guilty on Jan. 18, 2011, to using a telephone to further the conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison today.

According to information presented in court, in August 2008, an investigation began into a Houston-based drug trafficking organization that was distributing large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine throughout Houston and the Beaumont, Texas area. In June 2009, agents began utilizing court-ordered telephone intercepts in an effort to determine those involved in the conspiracy, the amount of drugs being distributed and the source of the drugs. Law enforcement officers and agents also participated in undercover purchases of methamphetamine and revealed at least 40 persons were involved in the conspiracy and that no less that 113 pounds of methamphetamine and 31 kilograms of cocaine were distributed. At least 20 kilograms of cocaine was seized through undercover buys and during the execution of search warrants and arrests. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on June 3, 2010, charging 35 defendants with various drug trafficking charges. An additional five defendants were named in a superseding indictment on Nov. 3, 2010. All defendants have since been convicted.

This case is being investigated by the DEA, ICE, ATF, Texas Department of Public Safety, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, the Beaumont Police Department, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, Galveston Police Department, Houston Police Department and the Texas Rangers. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Englade.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Alleged Mexican Mafia Members Paul Anthony Sanchez, Eduardo Garcia, Jason Ryan Gonzales, Christopher Ybarra, Jesus P. Sanchez, Adrian Lemus, John Jay Navarro, Andrew Rodriguez, and Joseph Andrew Correa Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on Federal Drug Charges

August 10, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas on August 9, 2011 released the following:

“FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES ARREST NINE HONDO-BASED TEXAS MEXICAN MAFIA MEMBERS BASED ON FEDERAL CHARGES

United States Attorney John E. Murphy, FBI Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelson and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw announced today that eight Hondo, Texas-based members and associates of the Texas Mexican Mafia (TMM) have been arrested based on a federal drug indictment; an ninth TMM member, on a federal firearms charge.

Those arrested, and charged by indictment include: 30-year-old Paul Anthony Sanchez of Hondo, Texas; 40-year-old Eduardo Garcia of Poteet, Texas; 30-year-old Jason Ryan Gonzales of Hondo; 29-year-old Christopher Ybarra of Hondo; 31-year-old Jesus P. Sanchez of San Antonio; 31-year-old Adrian Lemus of Hondo; 23-year-old John Jay Navarro of Pearsall, Texas, and, 29-year-old Andrew Rodriguez of Hondo. Authorities are still looking for 37-year-old Joseph Andrew Correa of Hondo.

A federal grand jury indictment, returned on July 20, 2011, and unsealed today, charges that since October 1, 2010, all of the defendants, with the exception of Rodriguez, have conspired to interfere with commerce by threats and/or violence. The indictment alleges that they conspired to extort money from methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana traffickers operating in Hondo, Poteet and Pearsall through the coercive collection of a ten percent drug tax, also known as “the dime.” Collection of “the dime” was enforced by robbery, serious bodily injury or other acts of violence.

The indictment also charges defendants Correa and Rodriguez with two counts of distribution of methamphetamine; Sanchez, one count of distribution of heroin. Upon conviction, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge and between five and 40 years in federal prison per drug distribution charge.

Authorities also arrested 38-year-old Ignacio Aragon, Jr., of San Antonio this morning while executing a search warrant at his residence. Investigators discovered a loaded .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol inside the residence. A federal criminal complaint, filed this morning, charges Aragon with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Aragon’s criminal history includes felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance, burglary and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Upon conviction, Aragon faces up to ten years in federal prison.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation together with the Texas Department of Public Safety–Criminal Investigations Division. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Marshals Service, San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff’s Department and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office also assisted in this investigation.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Project Delirium Results in Nearly 2,000 Arrests During 20-Month Operation, Seizures of More Than 12 Tons of Drugs and $62 Million in U.S. Currency

July 22, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 21, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON—Approximately 1,985 individuals have been arrested on narcotics-related charges as part of a 20-month multi-agency law enforcement investigation known as Project Delirium, which targeted the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, the Department of Justice announced today.

As part of an ongoing takedown that began June 1, 2011, 221 individuals have been arrested across the United States as part of Project Delirium, including more than 70 individuals apprehended yesterday and today. In addition, $770,499 in U.S. currency, 635 pounds of methamphetamine, 118 kilograms of cocaine, and 24 pounds of heroin were seized by law enforcement agents since June 1, 2011.

“Through coordinated and strategic efforts like Project Delirium, we are disrupting the operations of Mexican drug cartels in the United States and Mexico,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. “Today, we see drug traffickers operating in urban and rural communities alike. The arrests and seizures we are announcing today have stripped La Familia of its manpower, its deadly product, and its profit, and helped make communities large and small safer. The department is determined to continue our aggressive efforts, along with our Mexican law enforcement partners, to diminish and ultimately eliminate the threat posed by these dangerous groups.”

“Through the Secretariat of Public Security, the Government of Mexico has seen increased results in their fight against the drug trafficking organizations,” said Mexico’s Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna. “Due to increased information sharing and collaboration with the DEA, these efforts have resulted in successful and significant arrests and seizures of drugs and money.”

“Project Delirium is the second successful, strategic, and surgical strike to disrupt and destroy one of the most violent Mexican cartels, La Familia,” said Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “Through their violent drug trafficking activities, including their hallmark of supplying most of the methamphetamine imported into the United States, La Familia is responsible for recklessly and violently destroying countless lives on both sides of the border. The strong joint efforts with our Mexican and U.S. law enforcement partners are crippling this brutal organization by capturing its leaders, strangling its distribution networks, and relentlessly pursuing its members and those who facilitate them.”

“Law enforcement officials here in the U.S., in Mexico and all around the world are cooperating at unprecedented levels. There is a willingness—like never before—to work hand-in-hand to fight the cartels, the criminal enterprises, and the violent gangs that threaten the peace and security of people on both sides of the border,” said John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Investigations such as Project Delirium target the dangers these organizations pose to the United States and Mexico,” said Shawn Henry, FBI’s executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. “The FBI, together with our federal and international law enforcement partners, will continue to commit our resources to combat the threat posed by transnational criminal enterprises.”

Project Delirium is the result of information gathered during the course of a previous effort targeting La Familia known as Project Coronado. To date, Project Delirium has led to the arrest of 1,985 individuals and the seizure of approximately $62 million in U.S. currency, and approximately 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,722 kilograms of cocaine, 1,005 pounds of heroin, 14,818 pounds of marijuana, and $3.8 million in other assets.

As part of Project Delirium, arrests have been made or charges have been unsealed to date in the following districts: the Northern District of Alabama; the Central, Eastern, and Southern Districts of California; the District of Colorado; the District of Columbia; the Northern District of Georgia; the District of Kansas; the Eastern District of Michigan; the District of Minnesota; the Eastern District of Missouri; the District of New Mexico; the Eastern and Western Districts of North Carolina; the Western District of Tennessee; and the Northern, Southern, and Western Districts of Texas. On June 21, 2011, Mexican law enforcement arrested La Familia leader and Consolidated Priority Organizational Target (CPOT) Jose de Jesus Mendez-Vargas, aka “El Chango” or “The Monkey,” based on Mexican charges.

Individuals indicted in these cases are charged with a variety of crimes, including: conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana; distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana; conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States; money laundering; and other violations of federal law. Numerous defendants face forfeiture allegations as well.

An indictment is merely an allegation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The investigative efforts in Project Delirium were coordinated by the multi-agency Special Operations Division, comprised of agents and analysts from the DEA, FBI, ICE, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service, as well as attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Office of International Affairs. More than 300 federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies contributed investigative and prosecutorial resources to Project Delirium through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces.

The department thanks the Government of Mexico and its Mexican law enforcement partners for their continued partnership and collaboration in the ongoing efforts to combat Mexican drug cartels.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Multiple Defendants Arrested for Allegedly Operating a Prescribtion Drug “Pill Mill”

June 30, 2011

U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Georgia on June 29, 2011 released the following press release:

Owners, Managers, and Doctors at “Atlanta Medical Group” Accused of Illegal Distribution of Hundreds of Thousands of Oxycodone Pills

ATLANTA, GA – JASON COLE VOTROBEK, 27, of Vero Beach Florida; JESSE VIOLANTE, 32, of Vero Beach, Florida; ROLAND RAFAEL CASTELLANOS, 32, of Cartersville, Georgia; TARA ATKINS, 33, of Cartersville, Georgia; and Dr. JAMES CHAPMAN, 61, of Macon, Georgia, were indicted and arrested on federal drug and money laundering charges for their respective roles in operating a so-called “pill mill” pain clinic which served as a front for the illegal distribution of addictive pain killers.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of today’s arrests, “The abuse of pain medication has become epidemic and now accounts for more deaths in Georgia than all of the traditional illegal drugs combined. As the problems caused by prescription drug abuse become a focus for many of the communities in our district, our drug prosecutors also are focusing on the primary sources of these dangerous drugs in our state.”

John S. Comer, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Atlanta Field Division said, “The dispensing of addictive prescription pain medication under the guise of a doctor’s care, as occurred in this investigation, is not about the good of the community or an individual’s specific health needs; it is about greed and those involved in “pill mill” activity are in fact drug dealers.”

Atlanta IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Reginael McDaniel said, “The indictment of these individuals puts a spotlight on organizations that illegally distribute drugs as well as the exemplary coordination among law enforcement, which leads to breaking up these organizations. Our goal is to stop criminal enterprises that profit from the illegal trade of dangerous narcotics and take away any financial benefit they receive from their criminal activity.”

Atlanta FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin, said, “The FBI, through its Northwest Georgia Criminal Enterprise Safe Streets Task Force, in initiating this investigation in conjunction with the GBI and the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, is pleased with its role in the successful outcome of this case. Through joint efforts such as this, the community in which we serve benefits while sending a clear message to those that would exploit the addictions of others.”

Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap said, “The Bartow/Cartersville Drug Task Force and all other agencies involved have been working diligently to stop this type of illegal drug activity. We want to send a message that we will not stand for any type of drug dealers in this county. Whether it be prescription drugs, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, or any other illegal drug, we will exhaust all our law enforcement resources to stop you.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the indictment, and information presented in court: In May 2010, working from information from the FBI/ Northwest Georgia Criminal Enterprise Safe Streets Task Force, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, as well as agents for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), expanded an investigation of “Atlanta Medical Group,” after learning that the clinic, located at 16 Collins Drive, Cartersville, Georgia, was prescribing pain pills outside the bounds of legitimate medical practice.

The investigation revealed that VOTROBEK, VIOLANTE, AND CASTELLANOS financed and operated the clinic. ATKINS served as the office manager. CHAPMAN served as the primary doctor. The indictment charges that in their respective capacities, they worked to procure and distribute Oxycodone pills to addicts and illegitimate distributors. The clinic’s doctor was directed by the owners and managers to see as many patients as possible, in order to generate substantial profits through the sale of pills, which were largely dispensed on site. CHAPMAN allegedly did so, however, without conducting sufficient medical examinations. The indictment alleges that at on least one occasion, ATKINS facilitated the filling of prescriptions when the doctor was unable to do so himself. In addition, the amounts of pills distributed to patients were excessive, and with unusual dosage patterns.

The indictment charges that the clinic was really a drug distribution operation with an extremely high volume of patients visiting from surrounding states. Many of those visiting had apparent signs of being addicts. The clinic allegedly engaged in unusual practices, including permitting non-medical staff to assist with medical procedures, including taking blood pressure, to maximize the number of patients to be seen. The defendants allegedly made millions of dollars during the clinic’s approximately one year of operation. The indictment charges that the defendants established multiple bank accounts, many in third-party names, to conceal the windfall profits.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. This case was initiated by the FBI/ Northwest Georgia Criminal Enterprise Safe Streets Task Force.

Assistant United States Attorneys G. Scott Hulsey and Cassandra Schansman prosecuted the case.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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“Operation Big Winner” Leads to a Federal Indictment of 20 Individuals with Various Federal Drug Related Charges

June 15, 2011

United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Arkansas on June 14, 2011 released the following press release:

“Little Rock – Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced today a sweep of arrests in Central Arkansas stemming from eighteen count indictment involving federal drug offenses. The federal indictment is the result of an investigation, “Operation Big Winner,” which charged 20 defendants with various federal drug related charges. As of today, seventeen defendants are in custody.

The DEA Little Rock District Office High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Group #62, which is composed of Special Agents from DEA and Task Force Officers from the Pulaski County Sheriffs Department, North Little Rock Police Departments, Benton Police Department, and Jefferson County Sheriffs Department opened an OCDETF Operation sponsored by DEA. As part of the OCDETF investigation, officers were deputized under the OCDETF Operation from the following agencies: Arkansas State Police, Pulaski County Sheriffs Department, Sherwood Police Department, and the Central Arkansas Drug Task Force.

This investigation targeted a large scale drug trafficking organization distributing multi-pound quantities of methamphetamine ice in the central Arkansas area. The methamphetamine ice was smuggled from Mexico to Central Arkansas for distribution.

Today’s “Operation Big Winner” was conducted by the DEA, United States Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Arkansas State Police, Pulaski County Sheriffs Department, Sherwood Police Department, North Little Rock Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriffs Department, Central Arkansas Drug Task Force, Benton Police Department, White County Sheriffs Department, Lonoke County Sheriffs Department, and the Arkansas National Guard.

On Friday, June 10, 2011, three federal search warrants were executed by the above agencies in White County and Lonoke County. A total of seven defendants were arrested and taken into custody. These defendants appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Jerome K. Kearney for plea and arraignment Friday.

Today additional federal arrest warrants were executed by the above agencies. A total of ten defendants were arrested. Those taken into custody will appear before United States Magistrate Judge Jerome K. Kearney for their initial appearance this afternoon.

Five defendants remain at large at this time and law enforcement is actively pursuing these defendants.

This case is the result of the investigative work of federal, state and local law enforcement members in the HIDTA program,” stated Thyer. “HIDTA provides federal resources to help reduce drug trafficking and its harmful consequences. With such a broad law enforcement reach, we are able to take drugs and those who seek to peddle them off our streets and out of our communities.”

ASAC Bryant stated, “Through the combine team effort of local, state, and federal law enforcement, this drug trafficking organization was dismantled. Methamphetamine continues to be the number one drug threat to the citizens in Arkansas. This organization was distributing multi-pounds of methamphetamine ice per week in Central Arkansas. This team effort of law enforcement led to the seizure of seven pounds of methamphetamine ice, which did not reach the citizens in our communities. Law enforcement agencies also seized the following items as a result of this investigation: thirteen weapons, seven vehicles, six motorcycles, two boats and one tractor.”

The investigation is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gardner of the Eastern District of Arkansas United States Attorneys Office.

An indictment contains only allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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