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Federal indictments charging three Osceola men with committing federal drug and gun offenses in the northeast Arkansas town were unsealed Tuesday after the men's arrests.

James Cordell Scott, 30, and Sedrick Askew, 36, were arrested in the Mississippi County town that borders Tennessee, while Marquette Lamar Smith, 38, was arrested in Fayetteville, according to Cody Hiland, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

The men are charged with distributing crack and powder cocaine, and methamphetamine, and possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.

Their indictments, handed up last week, allege that they distributed drugs between January and August last year in Osceola, including from a well-known yellow house on Second Street.

The arrests represent a continuation of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation called Operation Blynd Justice that was first announced in 2015 with the arrests of 50 people, mostly residents of Blytheville, on charges of methamphetamine and crack distribution, and firearm charges.

In that operation, which followed an 18-month investigation, 70 people were charged in 40 federal indictments.

More arrests are expected, authorities said.

The task force consists of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies -- the Blytheville and Osceola police departments, the 2nd Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Department of Arkansas Community Correction and the FBI.

Hiland and Diane Upchurch, special agent in charge of the FBI's Little Rock office, said that in 2017, law enforcement officers intercepted hundreds of drug-trafficking calls with a court-ordered wiretap.

They also conducted controlled buys of more than 200 grams of crack cocaine, and during searches in Osceola in August, seized two loaded guns, quantities of crack, powder cocaine and methamphetamine, and $1,500 cash.

"The individuals arrested this morning endangered and poisoned the Osceola community, and it is my hope that the law-abiding citizens of that community can rest a little easier tonight," Hiland said in a news release. "But, to be clear," he added, "there is work that remains to be done and we intend to do it."

Osceola Police Chief Ollie Collins praised the cooperative efforts, and said, "Drug sales and the associated crime has saturated our communities for far too long. The Osceola Police Department and the 2nd Judicial District Drug Task Force will continue to cooperate with our federal partners in our efforts to disrupt the supply and sales of controlled substances in our city."

NW News on 06/14/2018

Print Headline: Arrested men face drug-ring charges

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