Authorities arrested 22 people in West Memphis on federal drug indictments as phase two of a multi-year investigation culminated Wednesday morning in a sweep by federal agents and police officers, officials said.
The second phase of the investigation, known as Operation "Money Don’t Sleep,” resulted in the arrest of 22 people on federal drug charges, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison Bragg.
“They indicted 32 people on conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine,” Bragg said. “Five of those were already in custody when the roundup began.”
Over a two-year period, investigators seized 1.2 kilograms of actual methamphetamine, 12 firearms, and over $8,000 in cash, she said. In addition, a search warrant executed prior to today’s arrests resulted in law enforcement’s seizure of half a pound of methamphetamine, $7,500 cash and a firearm.
“One of the people arrested in the operation has ties to MS-13,” said Cody Hiland, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, at a Wednesday news conference in West Memphis.
Operation “Money Don’t Sleep,” run by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, is an ongoing investigation focused on lowering the violent crime that stems from the distribution of illegal drugs, according to a new release from Hiland’s office.
The goal of the operation, the release states, is to identify and dismantle multiple drug-trafficking organizations that distribute cocaine and methamphetamine.
Today’s arrests conclude the second phase of the investigation that was initiated in 2015 by the DEA's Little Rock office and the West Memphis Police Department. The first phase of “Money Don’t Sleep” resulted in the arrests of 50 defendants in July 2017.
With those drug traffickers removed, new distributors emerged to fill the void left in the drug market, leading to this morning’s arrests, according to officials.
The name of the sting was created when officers noticed the suspects were selling drugs “at all hours,” officials previously said.
“We are not done,” DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Justin King said of the investigation. “We will continue.”