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Man gets 20 years for role in drug-trafficking ring

by Dale Ellis | April 19, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

A Mississippi County man indicted in 2018 as part of a drug-trafficking ring believed to be responsible for the distribution of hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine in Central Arkansas was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday.

Lewis "Pootie Roo" Miles, 50, of Blytheville pleaded guilty in March 2020 to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute between 350 and 500 grams of methamphetamine.

U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller gave Miles the maximum sentence under the statute. Under federal sentencing rules, he will have to serve at least 85% of his sentence -- 17 years -- before he is eligible for release.

Miles was originally charged in 2018 with one count each of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, Oxycodone and marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering; and two counts each of money laundering and use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.

The government agreed to dismiss the indictment in exchange for his guilty plea to the methamphetamine conspiracy count.

Authorities said the drug organization was led by Eric Baldwin and Nicholas Robinson Jr., both of Little Rock. Both pleaded guilty in September to a single count each of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, Oxycodone and marijuana.

The indictment named 23 defendants from the Central Arkansas area -- where the drugs were distributed -- and eight defendants from Southern California, which was believed to be the source of the drugs.

During the investigation in 2017 and 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration utilized three court-authorized wiretaps to intercept hundreds of drug-trafficking calls. Law enforcement officers, including DEA agents and local police departments, conducted more than a dozen controlled purchases of drugs, resulting in seizures of more than 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, as well as Oxycodone and ecstasy pills.

In addition, authorities said the DEA worked with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service after agents discovered the organization was sending packages of drugs through the mail. Agents intercepted more than 15 packages that contained 13 kilograms of methamphetamine and 4 kilograms of marijuana.

Additional operations, including the execution of search warrants and state arrests, led to the seizure of another 7.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, 8 kilograms of marijuana, seven firearms and more than $25,000.

Authorities said an extensive financial investigation revealed the organization utilized Walmart-to-Walmart wire transfers from Arkansas to California to purchase drugs, sending more than $250,000 to California.

To date, eight defendants have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 months to 20 years, four have been sentenced to probation, and charges were dismissed against one. Another 12 defendants have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, and six are scheduled for trial beginning Aug. 9.

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