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19 plead guilty in 'Great Scott' case

By Lee Hogan

This article was published February 1, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.


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— 19 defendants pleaded guilty this week to drug trafficking and firearms offenses as part of an investigation directed at a drug trafficking organization in Waldron, U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge said in a news release Friday.

Eldridge said the investigation, Operation Great Scott, culminated in the seizure of more than 11 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 70 pounds of marijuana, 28 firearms, two bullet-proof vests and more than $50,000. The investigation resulted in a 53-count indictment on Aug. 22.

"These convictions, taken together, represent another drug trafficking organization that is out of business," Eldridge said in a release.

Eldridge said his office will continue to prosecute the defendants in Operation Great Scott until all are brought to justice.

The investigation included over 40 controlled purchases of methamphetamine from members of the organization. Eldridge said minors were used to distribute the drugs in many instances.

Court documents show one of the organization members, 31-year-old Miguel Paramo, was under surveillance during the investigation when he drove to Irving, Texas to obtain a large amount of methamphetamine.

Documents state Paramo was stopped in Dallas after being involved in an accident and arrested by police for misdemeanor offenses. Police searched his truck, finding approximately four pounds of methamphetamine, which Paramo was taking back to Waldron to distribute among the members of the organization.

Court information also said the DEA and the Department of Homeland Security searched the residence of organization member, Lee Roy Garcia, during the investigation. Agents found approximately six pounds of methamphetamine and eight firearms at the residence, according to court documents.

The defendants who pleaded guilty this week as part of the investigation included 15 from Arkansas — 12 of them from Waldron. There were two defendants from Oklahoma, one from Texas and one from Mexico.

The group collectively faces up to 434 years in prison, including one life sentence, and more than $51.5 million in fines.

The defendants who pleaded guilty and their possible prison sentences and fines are as follows:

  • Miguel Paramo, 31, of Waldron, pleaded guilty Monday to possessing over 200 grams of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. Paramo faces maximums of life in prison and a $10 million fine.
  • Christian Bonilla, 30, of Waldron, pleaded guilty Monday to distributing over three grams of methamphetamine. Bonilla faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
  • Amadeo Cardenas, 34 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Monday to distributing over one gram of methamphetamine. Cardenas faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
  • Juan Vasquez, 33 of Heavener, Okla., pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Vasquez faces maximums of 20 years in prison and a $2 million fine.
  • Armando Arce, 57 of Mena, pleaded guilty Monday to one-count information for receiving and possessing a short-barreled shotgun with an obliterated serial number in violation of the National Firearms Acts. Arce faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Lee Roy Garcia, 24 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of aiding and abetting distribution of methamphetamine and one count of being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm. Garcia faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
  • Daniel Valdez, 28 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Tuesday to distributing over two grams of methamphetamine. Valdez faces maximums of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
  • Juan Garcia, 37 of Cherokee, Okla., pleaded guilty Tuesday to aiding and abetting the distribution of over three grams of methamphetamine. Garcia faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
  • Fernando Perez, 24 of Mexico, pleaded guilty Tuesday to distributing over 12 grams of methamphetamine and faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
  • Jamie Villareal, 29 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aiding and abetting the distribution of over 20 grams of methamphetamine. Villareal faces maximums of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
  • Daniel Cruz, 20 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Wednesday to the distribution of over eight grams of methamphetamine. Cruz faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
  • Javier Villareal, 37 of Hunnington, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aiding and abetting to the distribution of methamphetamine. Villareal faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
  • Benjamin Chronister, 30 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine. Chronister faces maximums of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
  • Gilberto Avila, 29 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of using a communication facility to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. Avila faces up to eight years and a $500,000 fine.
  • David Gutierrez-Cervantes, 32 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of using a communication facility to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. Gutierrez-Cervantes will face up to eight years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
  • Cody Pittman, 29 of Irving, Texas, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to distribute over 585 grams of methamphetamine. Pittman faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
  • Sandra Payne, 42 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to two counts of using a communication facility in facilitating a drug trafficking crime. Payne faces up to eight years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
  • Carlton Mathews, 27 of Waldron, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Mathews faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $2 million fine.
  • Michael Thompson, 31 of Hatfield, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Thompson faces maximums of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Comments on: 19 plead guilty in 'Great Scott' case

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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 total comments

DEMOCRATREPUBLICAN says... February 1, 2013 at 4 p.m.

All this prison time for these people that will be paid for by taxpayers and not one drop less of meth will be on the streets. This stuff comes accross the border by the tons. 11 pounds, wow. Prison is not a deterrent. It just cost us taxpayers more money.

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4carl2c says... February 1, 2013 at 6:38 p.m.

A "few" names seem hispanic !!!!!

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BradBailey says... February 1, 2013 at 6:38 p.m.

Why is it that the harder the drug warriors fight, the cheaper and more prevalent drugs become? Insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again, expeting different results. After 40 years of this insanity, maybe it's time to rethink the prohibition strategy.

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DEMOCRATREPUBLICAN says... February 3, 2013 at 10:22 a.m.

Prohibition is breaking the bank. Probably half the prison population is drug related. Prison has become a high taxpayer cost money making machine for some.

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DEMOCRATREPUBLICAN says... February 4, 2013 at 10:32 a.m.

@ Inquire, but at some time a logical person would have to admit defeat. For every drug dealer or user that is taken off the street, 5 take their place.

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