Officers arrest 13 people for drug trafficking in NW Arkansas

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FORT SMITH, Ark. - Local, state, and federal law enforcement officers arrested 13 people on Thursday following an investigation into methamphetamine and heroin trafficking in Boone, Baxter, Searcy, Newton, Carroll, and Washington counties. The investigation lasted more than a year.

The arrests include nine people on federal charges and four people on state charges. Three additional defendants, Mark Mock, Ricky Smith, and Albert Bynum Jr. had already been arrested on federal charges. Law enforcement also executed two federal search warrants,in Harrison and Lead Hill as part of the operation.

A federal grand jury on July 25 returned two separate indictments charging 11 people in Arkansas and Missouri with a total of 24 counts relating to the distribution of methamphetamine. The indictments were unsealed on Thursday after the arrests.

In addition, for much of the year of 2017, the Eureka Springs Police Department, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, DEA and FBI, conducted a separate but related investigation that resulted in the arrests of four people in Eureka Springs. They're suspected of trafficking heroin in that area. Tree federal search warrants were served in Eureka Springs on Thursday as part of that investigation..

The arrests on Thursday are directly related to the federal arrests last year of 19 people in the Harrison area last Oct. 27 after an FBI-led investigation. Of those 19 people, 18 are convicted and awaiting sentencing.

Diane Upchurch, special agent in charge of the FBI in Little Rock, said these agencies were part of the investigation: the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Western District of Arkansas; the 14th Judicial Drug Task Force; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Department of Homeland Security; the Eureka Springs Police Department; the Arkansas State Police; the Boone, Newton, Searcy, and Baxter county sheriff's departments, the Harrison Police Department, and the Arkansas National Guard.

The federal defendants who were arrested on Thursday will appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in Fayetteville on Monday.