A total of 24 people in Arkansas and Texas have been charged in a large-scale drug-trafficking conspiracy, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas announced Thursday in a news release.
The investigation, which began in 2012, involved controlled purchases of methamphetamine, extensive surveillance and residential search warrants in and around Waldo and Magnolia, with the searches extending into Texarkana, Texas and Dallas.
In all, three pounds of methamphetamine, $150,000 and five firearms were seized, in addition to the arrests of 16 individuals on Thursday by state, local and federal law enforcement. Four federal defendants and four state defendants remain fugitives.
Nearly 20 law enforcement agencies were involved in the two-state investigation, including the Little Rock Federal Bureau of Investigation, various law enforcement agencies from El Dorado, and sheriff's departments from Union, Columbia, Ouachita, Miller and Lafayette counties.
“Working together, we remain focused on identifying, investigating, and prosecuting drug-trafficking organizations in South Arkansas and throughout the Western District," Eldridge said in the release. "Those who bring this illegal activity onto our streets threaten our communities. We will continue to work to ensure that those who choose to traffic in drugs and participate in associated illegal activity are held accountable so that Arkansans can have confidence that our streets are safe. I thank the dedicated members of local, state, and federal law enforcement who have worked together tirelessly in this effort.”
All charged federal defendants will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant in El Dorado, and state defendants will appear in Columbia County Circuit Court in Magnolia before Judge Larry Chandler.
Curtis Cole, 45, of Waldo
Courtney Loudermill, 34, of Waldo
Jamie Martin, 33, of Waldo
Claudie Miller, Jr., 40, of Dallas
Lee Williams, 40, of Magnolia
Eric Wyrick, 34, of Texarkana, Tex.
Steven Atkinson, of Waldo
Johnny Carter, of Magnolia
Brandon Chambliss, 33, of Magnolia
Samuel Cogbill, 29, of Waldo
Michael Hunter, 36, of Waldo
Mario Meadows, 23, of Magnolia
Sammy Otwell, of Magnolia
Ricardo Walker, 21, of Waldo
Jarrod Wilson, of Magnolia
John Woodward (age and city of residence was not immediately provided)
*The names of the eight fugitives have not yet been released.