Nine people facing drug conspiracy charges related to trafficking of fentanyl in Arkansas appeared in federal court Wednesday while authorities were still searching for one member of the group who had been indicted, a news release from the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas states.
Police arrested the nine defendants Tuesday morning on charges of trafficking fentanyl between June 2022 and March 2023.
The most notable of the arrestees was Andre Kimble, 40, of Little Rock, who led the operation in selling the drug out of Little Rock motels, the release states.
The arrests, which also led to the seizure of eight firearms and $20,000, were in connection with the latest round of indictments in Operation Hartbreak Kid, the release states.
In addition to Kimble, police arrested Jerry Wesley, 64, Henry White, 31, Eric James, 43, Frankie Webb, 44, Giovaughnie Criswell, 42, Amethyst Schmued, 33, Shelton Graham, 33, and Billy Joe Cooksey, 40, all of Little Rock. The one suspect still at large was not named in the release.
All the defendants were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine.
Kimble, White, Sanders, Schmued, Graham and Cooksey also face charges related to money laundering, and Kimble, White, James, Webb, Sanders and Criswell face gun-related charges.
Operation Hartbreak Kid is named after Derrick Hart of North Little Rock, who at 27 was the lead defendant in November 2021 when authorities arrested 13 people on charges of distributing methamphetamine and cocaine.
The operation that led to Hart's arrest began as a DEA investigation into drug dealing in North Little Rock's McAlmont neighborhood. Hart and another man, Tetus Jenkins, were identified as suppliers for at least eight other people.
Undercover DEA agents purchased methamphetamine from dealers supplied by Hart and eventually seized drugs and guns as part of that investigation, authorities said at the time. Those dealers mainly operated from a parking lot at the corner of Zinnia Street and Cotton Road in McAlmont and a club on Mimosa Street in the same neighborhood.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Gardner, who prosecuted the members of Hart's ring, will also prosecute the defendants arrested this week.