(KATV) Little Rock - A cocaine trafficking ring brought to its knees Thursday, two dozen suspected dealers and users taken off the streets. The majority of the arrests happened in Pine Bluff. 10 suspects are still on the loose.
We're not talking small quantities, tens of thousands of dollars worth of drugs, mostly cocaine and crack cocaine were being handed down to local distributors. The drugs came from Texas, but authorities say many of the main players have been taken down.
It's been nearly 3-years in the making. 34 people were sought by 100 officers Thursday for their alleged roles in drug trafficking. 10 are fugitives, including Keenan Packard identified as a source for crack cocaine dealers. The other suspected leader, Quentin Tidwell has been arrested.
The warrant sweep a success, no one on either side of the law was injured although some suspects were armed.
Many have prior violent offenses on their growing wrap sheet.
During the investigation, the DEA made multiple control purchases of drugs. Bill Bryant says tens of thousands of dollars worth of drugs were hitting the streets of Central Arkansas monthly. "Currently in the state of Arkansas an ounce of cocaine goes anywhere from $1,200 - 1,800 and a kilo of cocaine in Arkansas goes for $18,000 - 24,000 whole sale amount."
Three search warrants also lead to drug money, dozens of weapons and got drugs off the street.
Pine Bluff Police Chief Brenda Davis- Jones says this accomplishment of disrupting and dismantling an organization doesn't mean they're putting their guard down. "Those things don't stop the crime. We still have crime in Pine Bluff, it's going to make a dent in it but like anything else, when you kill one roach, pops up another one."
Everyone arrested Thursday was arraigned in either federal or state court.
The group was based out of Pine Bluff, but U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer says they had significant distribution activities in Little Rock, Stuttgart, Humphrey, Altheimer and Dumas. Several suspects were arrested at those locations.
In April 2009, DEA, working jointly with the Pine Bluff Police Department's Vice & Narcotics Section, began the investigation.
The case was initiated by DEA HIDTA #61 and the Tri County Drug Task Force, which is comprised of officers from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and the Pine Bluff Police Department. HIDTA #161 consists of special agents from the DEA, as well as officers and personnel from the following agencies: Pine Bluff Police Department; Jefferson County Sheriff's Department; Jacksonville Police Department; 20th Judicial District Drug Task Force; Little Rock Police Department; Arkansas Highway Police; and the Arkansas National Guard. Other agencies participating in today's arrests include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Marshals Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Arkansas State Police; and the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. The federal case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anne Gardner and Edward O. Walker.
An indictment contains only allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday:
Not in Custody:
Keenan Packard, 26
Ryan O'neal, 22
Terrance Coleman, 28
Roarie Gibson, 27
Cadarro Gibson, 25
Tamario Washington, 29
Romando Jenkins, 36
Donta Stokes, 34'
Quentin Tidwell, 35
Brandon Caffey, 22
Charles Thomas, 27
Damon Sission, 33
Charles Petty, 29
Darryl Rankins, 19
Delmar Avery, 36
Kyleisha Wright, 25
Edmond Battles, 26
Melvin Douglas, 34
Ronald Morris, 50
Cory McGowan, 25
Sedric McGowan, 37
Glen Dale Thomas, 26
Derik Roman Lewis, 33
Billie Gene Batemon, 54