23 charged with drug trafficking in Gurdon

GURDON (KATV) - Authorities charged 23 men and women after an investigation into drug trafficking called "Operation: Ice Pick."

United States Attorney Connor Eldridge said in a press release, "Like many small towns, Gurdon has been plagued by drug trafficking - including selling drugs near schools and playgrounds....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."

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 were unsealed Thursday 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, Arkansas Circuit Court charged 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.

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

Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bill Bryant 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."

Operation Ice Pick was 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.