Twenty arrests were made in connection with a drug operation in West Memphis, Ark., Monday morning.
(WMC-TV) - Twenty arrests were made in connection with a drug operation in West Memphis, Ark., Monday morning.
According to U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer, the people arrested are accused of taking part in a huge drug trafficking operation that stretched throughout the region.
Raphael McDaniel was reportedly in charge of the group that distributed large quantities of cocaine and cocaine base in Crittenden County.
The 25-count indictment was handed down to McDaniel, and 19 others including some people from Houston, Boston, and North Mississippi, Monday. They face charges of possession with the intent to distribute, as well as other crimes related to the operation.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Arkansas State Police, and West Memphis Police Department worked hand-in-hand in the investigation, which is dubbed "Delta Crossroads."
The following people were arrested in connection with Operation Delta Crossroads:
The U.S. attorney said the violent crime rate in Crittenden County is three times higher than the national violent crime rate, as well as Arkansas violent crime rate. He hopes these arrests will make a significant dent in that rate for the county.
"With the arrests made this morning, we took a big step in the fight against drugs and violence in our community," said Thyer. "And it is a great example of what can be accomplished when local, state, and federal law enforcement cooperate for a common goal."
Prosecutors say the 20 people arrested represent just the beginning of their efforts.
"Some of these individuals are very violent individuals," said Thyer. "They use guns and other forms of intimidation to further their drug conspiracy."
"We identified those that are the most violent, that posed the greatest risk to this community and we did what we do," added FBI assistant special agent in charge Dave Shepard. "We will continue to attack this problem and we're not going away."
"Absolutely, we were familiar with all of them," said West Memphis Police Chief Donald Oakes. "The people the FBI chose and US Attorneys office chose to arrest in this first wave were the right ones, the ones we needed to get out of our community."
The FBI says the number will grow bigger.
"It's worth pointing out that this is just the beginning. There will be more," said Dave Shepard, FBI.
A beginning for which the mayor says he is grateful.
"I think we will see a dramatic decrease in the amount of drugs available now that they're out of circulation," said West Memphis Mayor William Johnson. "This is good publicity for us. I don't avoid this type of publicity at all."
Each person arrested Monday will be arraigned Tuesday, November 19 at 11 a.m.