'Operation Delta Blues' Citizens Say It's About Time

(KATV) Helena- West Helena - The investigation dubbed 'Operation Delta Blues' has been open for 48-months but residents in the community say rumors of corruption have been circulating for more than a decade.

The investigation led to the indictment of 70 people. The FBI says the focus of the investigation was corrupt law officers dealing with convicted felons who, in some cases, were convicted murderers.

(*For the details of the investigation, click on the links under the picture.)

Not one person crews from Channel Seven spoke with was surprised by Tuesdays announcement but now they fear if this is just the beginning, how safe are they if some suspects are not going down without a fight.

Francis Hawkins recalls, "I heard a big boom sound and I laid there for a minute."

Hawkins heard what sounded like explosions at about 4 a.m. blocks from where she lives. "I got up and looked outside and saw a helicopter over the house."

It was some of the 800 federal and state agents using force to arrest 51 people in five counties. At least two suspects fired at police, grazing one officer in the leg.

Joe Smith says, "They shook our windows and they were at least a mile away."

Smith's business is across the street from the armory where everyone arrested was taken to be processed. Of those, five officers are accused of taking bribes and protecting criminal activity.

"Not surprised at all," Smith says. He continues, "I'm proud they're doing this. I wish they did it 10-years ago. It's been bad around here."

Claudean Williams says there are a lot of break-ins, drug problems and to sum it up criminals have taken over the community, but Tuesday 51 of them were bussed out of town to the Pulaski County Jail. She says, "You don't know who to trust so what do you do?"

Many citizens tell Channel Seven they're looking forward to a clean start with a reputation for taking back their community.

There are more arrested expected including 14 fugitives.

During the press conference authorities said some of the criminals arrested have committed murder but were never completely prosecuted. They're staying very tight lipped about the on-going investigation and if any of the murders happened in the county. Authorities did confirm there are several unsolved murders and they will look into them to see if there's a connection to this investigation.

Officers Charged:
Herman Eaton, police officer for the Helena-West Helena Police Department
Marlene Kalb, police sergeant for the Helena-West Helena Police Department
Robert Rogers, police officer for the Helena-West Helena Police Department
Robert Wahls, police officer for the Marvell Police Department
Winston Dean Jackson, then Phillips County Deputy Sheriff

Law enforcement agencies investigating including the United States Attorney, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service and the Arkansas State Police are all involved with the investigation.

To see videos from the FBI Press Office, click below:

Public Corruption Hotline: 501-221-8200

(*For the details of the investigation and press conference, click on the links under the picture.)