A federal grand jury has indicted 20 people in a drug trafficking ring as authorities made several arrests.
The 18-count indictment filed in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas accuses them of conspiring to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The ring lasted from 2006 through June 2011, according to the indictment.
The Drug Enforcement Agency, in conjunction with many state and local law enforcement groups from Pulaski, Jefferson and Lonoke counties and the Arkansas State Police, raided the residence of Daniel "Dano" Henry, Jr. at 6 a.m. Tuesday, executing the warrant and making all arrests with without incident.
The organizations also executed a warrant on Friday at residences of suppliers Christian "Primo" Maldonado and Gladis Maldonado in Kensett and Henry's residence in Austin, arresting all three, before Tuesday's final raid.
"I think it's very important that in just the one day that we did this, Friday, we seized seven pounds of methamphetamine," William J. Bryant, assistant special agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency, said.
According to U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer, the investigation targeted the large-scale drug trafficking organization distributing methamphetamine ice in the central Arkansas area. The methamphetamine ice was smuggled from Mexico to Central Arkansas for distribution.
According to authorities, Henry, who was identified in the investigation as the major distributor, and his associates had been extremely secretive in their production and storage of the methamphetamine, storing the finished product, along with money made in deals, in PVC pipes and burying them in the ground in various places, primarily at his residence.
Bryant said that anywhere from 80 to 90 officers had put time towards the investigation -- nicknamed "Operation: Big Winner" after a member of Henry's family won $100,000 in the Arkansas Lottery recently.
Henry is currently being detained without bond. Three remaining individuals named in the indictment, Oather Lee Fulmer, Jason Holmes and Aleshia Johnston, are still at large, but Bryant said state police are currently working on finding them and believe they "have good leads on them."
"This organization was distributing between five and 10 pounds of methamphetamine per week, which is a huge amount," Bryant said. "So we definitely made a difference in the central Arkansas community with this group effort."
The government seeks the forfeiture of $2 million and property that includes a house and rental properties in Austin, a Corvette, a Hummer, a Tahoe and several Certificates of Deposit.
Two children were also at the residence, a place Bryant described as resembling a compound, and were taken by Child Protective Services. Bryant also added that as Henry and other were being taken away in the early morning hours, neighbors were watching on their front porches, applauding.
"There's others we're going to pursue," Bryant said. "We're not through with this. There will be others that are indicted in this. But this was the major thrust of it that was affecting central Arkansas, that we took out first."
Those named in the indictment are:
Christian Maldonado Kensett, AR 26
Gladis Maldonado Kensett, AR 29
Daniel Henry, Jr. Austin, AR 39
Rebecca Henry Austin, AR 36
Michael Myers Austin, AR 42
Patrick Linn Little Rock, AR 38
Jason Holmes Cabot, AR 36
Brent Amaden Carlisle, AR 39
Michael Himstedt Little Rock, AR 48
Michael Lesczyna Lonoke, AR 31
John Henry Youngblood, Jr. Jacksonville, AR 40
Oather Lee Fulmer Cabot, AR 44
Rex Ingle Carlisle, AR 43
Paul Criswell Little Rock, AR 46
Paul Simpkins Cabot, AR 36
Matthew Griffey North Little Rock, AR 30
Aleisha Johnston Roland, AR 23
Jennifer Mize Austin, AR 41
Margaret Henry Austin, AR 62
Dustin Dyer Benton, AR 33