Comments Off on 23 Arrested in “Operation Ice Pick” in Gurdon Area

Twenty-three individuals have been charged with drug trafficking offenses as part of Operation Ice Pick, which targeted drug trafficking activity in Gurdon (Clark County) and the surrounding area, including Arkadelphia and Malvern.

Officials say six people have been indicted in Federal Court and 13 more have been charged in Clark County Circuit Court. Four others have been charged with drug trafficking offenses in Malvern. Two of those in Federal Court and two of those in Hot Spring County Circuit Court.

The arrests were announced this afternoon in a joint news conference held by Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas; Bill Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Blake Batson, Prosecuting Attorney for the Ninth East Judicial District; and Jason Watson, Clark County Sheriff.

“Like many small towns, Gurdon has been plagued by drug trafficking – including selling drugs near schools and playgrounds. With this case, numerous drug traffickers in the area have been arrested and are being prosecuted. Cleaning up drug activity is vital to the success of Gurdon, as it is for all communities. For this reason, we remain focused on prosecuting drug trafficking across the Western District,” Eldridge said.

“Unfortunately, small towns in Arkansas are not immune to drug trafficking. DEA worked with state and local counterparts in this area of the state in an effort to disrupt these drug trafficking activities,” said Bryant.

“In Operation Ice Pick, we have used the resources and tools of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and local law enforcement to break up, pick at and chip away the ice (Methamphetamine) trafficking in this county. With their assistance and with the dedication and countless hours of work done by Group 6 Task Force Officers, Gurdon Police Department, Clark County Sheriff’s Deputies, Arkansas State Police, Arkadelphia Police, and Arkansas Highway Police, we are protecting our children and families from this devastating drug,” Batson said.

Sheriff Watson added “I appreciate the assistance from all of the agencies involved as this was a very vital operation in Clark County. Taking office, I knew that we had a major problem in the Southern area of our county. We hope that today’s operation shows that we will have a zero tolerance policy on this type of behavior. If you live in Clark County and choose to engage in this activity and supply our children with dangerous drugs, you can expect these results.”

According to documents filed in court, the investigation included numerous controlled purchases of methamphetamine and crack cocaine in Gurdon and the surrounding area. In many cases, children were present during the drug transactions.

Grand Jury indictments have been unsealed today charging Elander Kennel, Samson Kadari, Andrae Barnes, Jerome Macon, Kenyuan Morris, and Samuel Barrientos with federal drug trafficking offenses. Kennel, Kardari, and Barnes are related as brothers.

Criminal Informations filed in Clark County Circuit Court charging Julian Marks, James Campbell, Chris Penny, Teresa Grigsby, Marcus Horton, John Powell, Thomas Gulley, Bobby Charles, Wheatie Wells, Candelario Leon, Bobby Holiman, and Carlton Marks were also announced today.

The maximum penalty for the federal charge of distribution of methamphetamine in this case is 40 years in prison.

Operation Ice Pick is a joint operation between the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ninth East Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, the Arkansas State Police, the Arkadelphia Police, the Gurdon Police and the Arkansas Highway Police. U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge, Prosecuting Attorney Blake Batson, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Wulff are prosecuting the case.


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