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LITTLE ROCK -- An investigation into high-level drug trafficking in and around West Memphis between 2015 and 2017 has resulted in a federal prison sentence of 20 years and eight months.

U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. imposed the sentence Wednesday on Karlen Ingram, 38, of West Memphis, who was one of numerous people indicted in 2017 and 2019 in different phases of Operation Money Don't Sleep, a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the West Memphis Police Department.

During the ongoing investigation, federal agents learned that Ingram supplied numerous people with powder and crack cocaine, according to U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland.

In late 2015 and early 2016, agents made six controlled buys of crack from Ingram at his home, Hiland said. He said agents also used court-authorized wiretaps on Ingram's cell phone to intercept narcotics transactions, learning that he later shifted from primarily distributing cocaine to also dealing in methamphetamine. The investigation showed Ingram and his co-conspirators shipped illegal drugs through the U.S. Postal Service until January of 2017, Hiland said.

Ingram pleaded guilty on Oct. 2 to a charge of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine.

In a sentencing hearing Wednesday, Moody ordered him to serve 250 months in federal prison, where parole is unavailable, and then to serve five years on supervised release.

Noting that the drug trafficking scheme conducted by Ingram and others endangered communities in eastern Arkansas, Hiland said, "This lengthy sentence is a testament to the dedication of our law enforcement partners, with whom we share a tireless commitment to maintaining law and order in our state."

Only one of three people charged alongside Ingram in the case before Moody is still awaiting trial. Ingram also faced cocaine-distribution charges in another case alongside 16 other people, but those charges were dropped in October when he pleaded guilty to the charge for which he was sentenced Wednesday. All other defendants in that case have pleaded guilty or had their charges dropped, according to electronic court records.

The name of the investigation came from officers noticing that people were selling drugs at all hours.


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