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Drug-trafficking investigation nets 16 arrests in Arkansas, Texas

By David Harten , Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published March 21, 2013 at 9:38 a.m. Updated March 21, 2013 at 4:17 p.m.

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.

*Federally-indicted individuals:

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.

*State-indicted individuals:

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.


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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 total comments

Wowy says... March 21, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.

Oh goody, well I hope it's a better bust than the $millions they spent
with helicopters, SWAT teams and paying robbing murderous drug dealers
$thousands and setting 'um up in a new life to fool and catch a 25 yr.
veteran police officer for doing an old friend a harmless favor like they
did in Helena.

( | suggest removal )

HOTDEMN says... March 21, 2013 at 2:25 p.m.

how about somebody rooting out all the hillbilly meth labs in garland and saline counties. you can't walk down here without stepping on a tweeker.

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BradBailey says... March 21, 2013 at 4:11 p.m.

Why is it that the harder the drug warriors fight, the more prevalent drugs become?

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BradBailey says... March 21, 2013 at 6:16 p.m.

This has nothing to do with "protecting our communities." It has everything to do with money. Federal drug grants and asset forfeiture laws have becoma a gravy train for state and local law enforcement agencies and the prison-industrial complex. The drug war is a fraud that will never end because so many agencies are making money off of it. In the end, it's tax-payers who have to foot the bill to warehouse all these people.

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