Dozens accused of drug trafficking near Ark.-Texas state line

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 18, 2011 7:43 PM
Dozens accused of drug trafficking near Ark.-Texas state line

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (Reuters) - A federal grand jury on Tuesday charged 66 people on the Arkansas-Texas state line with 190 counts of large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy.

The defendants are accused of selling crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of five public schools, five public housing facilities and one public playground.

"Many of these defendants placed children at risk," Conner Eldridge, U.S. attorney for the western district of Arkansas, said in a news release.

Forty-one of the 66 were arrested on Tuesday in a roundup by local, state and federal law enforcement as part of an investigation known as Operation State Line Sweep, according to the news release. The others have not been arrested. Eight additional people were charged with similar counts in state or federal courts.

The indictment lists numerous offenses, including conspiracy to distribute crack-cocaine and methamphetamine, felon in possession of a firearm and use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The defendants face five years to life in prison and fines ranging from $250,000 to $20 million.

"This case indicates that we are serious about working together to investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations that put our communities in jeopardy by engaging in drug trafficking and other crimes," Eldridge said.

Some of those arrested on Tuesday appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Barry A. Bryant Tuesday afternoon and others will do so on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Suzi Parker; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Jerry Norton)