Wednesday, May 15, update:
Authorities have taken two fugitives into custody in relation to Tuesday's announcement of a 25-count indictment involving a cocaine distribution ring.
Dwatney Noid on Wednesday morning turned himself in to U.S. Marshals, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office states. Marshals also arrested Mervin Johnson near the intersection of 12th and Woodrow streets in Little Rock. Both men had their initial court appearance at 2 p.m.
In all, 16 people face federal charges for conspiring to distribute cocaine in Arkansas from Mexico. Ten of those named in the indictment were arrested Tuesday, and one is already in prison. Three people, including lead defendant Idalia Ramos Rangel, 57, are still at large.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Little Rock held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to announce the charges.
The investigation centers around the Gulf Cartel, based out of Matamoros, Mexico. The cartel is alleged to have distributed "multiple hundreds of kilograms of cocaine in the United States," according to a news release.
The indictment accuses the lead defendant, Idalia Ramos Rangel, 57, of keying a drug ring that delivered more than 100 kilograms of cocaine throughout Arkansas. Rangel's family is also said to have been involved in the drug ring, the release states, including her son, 31-year-old Mohammed Kazam Martinez. Martinez is accused of recruiting inmates in the federal prison in Forrest City to assist in the distribution of cocaine when they were released. Two more of Rangel's children, Homar Martinez, 31, and Nishme Martinez, 26, were also charged with conspiracy in the case.
Authorities are still searching for six of those named in the indictment, including Rangel, who is believed to be in Matamoros. Federal investigators made 10 arrests in the case Tuesday.
While imprisoned, Martinez communicated with individuals involved in the drug-trafficking ring via prison phones and e-mail to coordinate distribution. He is currently imprisoned at a federal facility in Beaumont, Texas, serving a 275-month sentence.
Of the 16 charged, eight defendants were based out of Little Rock. Authorities have seized a total of one kilogram of cocaine from around the state connected to this ring, U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer said.
Overall, the charges include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine — a charge that all 16 defendants face — as well as distribution of cocaine and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.
If convicted with the conspiracy charge, the defendants face no less than 10 years to life in prison, up to a $10 million fine and at least five years supervised release. The charge of possession with intent to distribute less than 500 grams of cocaine carries a sentence of no more than 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and no less than three years supervised release. The charge of using of a communication facility to further a drug-trafficking crime is punishable by no more than four years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to a year of supervised release.