FORT SMITH, Ark. — 14 individuals were arrested today by federal, state, and local law enforcement in Sebastian, Crawford, and Logan Counties as part of a roundup following an over year-long investigation into methamphetamine trafficking.
“This investigation has dealt a serious setback to drug trafficking organizations that endanger not only our communities in the Western District of Arkansas but also other communities throughout the nation,” stated First Assistant U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes, “The indictments and arrests in this case were only made possible due to the unprecedented cooperation between Federal, State and Local Agencies.
In August 2020, a federal grand jury returned an Indictment charging several individuals in the Fort Smith area with a large-scale, multi-state drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy.
“Today, DEA, in collaboration with our Federal, State and Local law enforcement partners, took down a violent methamphetamine trafficking organization, with direct ties to Mexico and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and whose tentacles extended beyond Arkansas to many other states,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley. “These violent offenders not only sold large quantities of methamphetamine, but also used firearms and committed acts of violence in furtherance of their crimes. Because of persistent and collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies in the area, a major supplier of methamphetamine to this region of Arkansas is out of business.”
“The individuals arrested today enriched themselves off the misery and sufferings of others,” stated Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch of the FBI Little Rock Field Office. “Working alongside the DEA and our tremendous Arkansas law enforcement partners, we are committed to dismantling criminal organizations who flood our communities with dangerous narcotics and create violence in our neighborhoods. We urge anyone with information about Arkansas criminal organizations to contact our FBI office.”
The defendants who were arrested today (Manuel “Chuy” De Jesus Perez-Echeverria, Humberto “Beto” Acosta-Martinez, Julio Ivan Enriquez-Munoz, Alberto Ledesma, Efrain Maciel-Martinez, Traye Everett Martin, Julie Ann Pyles, Ezequiel Rodriguez, Paula Lynne Rider, Ronal Salinas, Benjamin “Ben” Valdez, Amber Renee Vance, Emily Elizabeth Williams, and Michael Dean Wilson) will be scheduled to appear in the United States District in Fort Smith before United States Magistrate Judge Mark Ford in the coming days.
Editor's Note: The YouTube video below is from a drug sting in Bella Vista in 2017.