Thursday, June 27, 1991
Benton Courier

Federal Investigations Spur Round-up of 38 Arkansans

Banks said today that no public officials will be arrested.

From Staff and Wire Reports

Federal, state and local agents early today began rounding up 38 central and eastern Arkansas residents indicted on drug trafficking and firearms charges.

The sealed indictments stem from undercover investigations, the U.S. Attorney's office announced in Little Rock. The indictments name 28 defendants from an investigation centered in Saline County and 10 defendants in a separate investigation in Phillips County, officials said.

Special FBI arrest teams moved in with the Saline County Sheriff's Department about 6 a,m. today, authorities said.

The Saline County indictments reportedly include allegations of trafficking in cocaine and methamphetamines. While most of the alleged drug transactions occurred in Saline County, some of the defendants reside in Garland and Pulaski  Counties, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Charles "Chuck" Banks.

Capt. Lenard Lewis, chief deputy for the Saline County Sheriff's Office, Confirmed That some of those arrested are being taken to the Saline County Detention Facility by the U.S. Marshal's Office and the FBI, but noted that the arrests are not being processed through the local jail.

A local source said only one arrest had been made in Saline County by noon today and the suspect had already been transported elsewhere. The source said he did not have the name of the individual.

Lt. Jerry Easom of the Saline County Sheriff's Office, a member of the Presidential Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force headed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Govar, confirmed today that the Sheriff's Office is involved in the roundup and said they are part of the ongoing federal task force's investigation into Saline County drug trafficking and the alleged ancillary corruption of public officials.

Names, ages and addresses of those indicted in the two counties, and the specific charges involved will be released when the arrests are completed, according to the news release from the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Steve Bryant said the arrests are being made as the result of a series of sealed federal indictments issued earlier. He said names of those arrested may only be released by Banks.

FBI agents joined undercover agents of the Arkansas State Police in the six-month undercover investigation in Saline County, Banks said.

The case was spearheaded by the FBI as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force for the Eastern District of Arkansas, officials said.

However, in a telephone conversation, Banks said today that no public officials will be arrested. "We've pursued this investigation and numerous allegations involving ancillary drug-related crimes. They have proved to be without merit."

Banks said the investigation has involved cocaine trafficking and other illegal drugs in the probe which his office confirmed about 18 months ago.

In Phillips County, the indictments stemmed from a separate 90-day undercover investigation called "Delta Wave," according in the U.S. attorney's office. Banks said charges in the south eastern Arkansas county include trafficking in cocaine, amphetamines and another stimulant, meperidine.

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