PARKIN, AR (KAIT) - Officials with the Parkin Police Department arrested 6 people Friday evening on felony drug charges. Police told Region 8 News they discovered more than 7 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop after receiving a tip about a possible breaking and entering incident at an apartment complex.
"She advised that there were 3 subjects that left the residence and that one of them had a blue shirt on. I immediately went to the apartment that she called in that somebody supposedly broke in to make sure there was nobody home or nobody hurt," said Erek Balentine with the Parkin Police Department. "I observed a white car that passed by, which is a 5-seater, and it had 6 people in it. They were acting real nervous when they passed me."
Balentine said he pulled the car over on Parkin Street. He asked the driver of the car if he had picked up any passengers.
"I could smell an odor, a strong odor and he said I need to talk to you," said Balentine.
Balentine said the driver told him he picked up three people to take them to Wynne for a party.
After Balentine obtained consent to search the vehicle, he discovered a large amount of marijuana and a small handgun.
"There was gun in the passenger floor seat," said Balentine. "When I found the gun in the passenger side, it was after I searched the vehicle, immediately, that raised a flag. You know, the gun was there the whole time I was searching the vehicle and that could have been my life."
Balentine placed all 6 men under arrest after calling for backup.
Kevin Moody of Parkin, Derek Jones of Jonesboro, Kevin Mitchell of Parkin, Chris Robinson of Wynne and Tre'vohn Smith of Parkin were all charged with residential burglary, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver and simultaneous possession of drugs and a firearm. A juvenile was also cited for the same charges.
The street value of marijuana seized was estimated at $7,250.
"I feel like that's a pretty good lick. Somebody is very unhappy right now and those some people are the 6 that are in the Cross County jail at this time," said Dean Davidson, Parkin Police Chief.
Davidson told Region 8 News he was proud of citizens who call his office with information about criminal activity. He said the public perception of his officers has gradually changed.
"I have got good officers. Parkin has been labeled as a speed trap. I've been chief almost a year. I think 39 solved felony cases in a population of 1,600 shows that we don't just work Highway 64," said Davidson.
Davidson said his office has been working with the Memphis Police Department, Drug Enforcement Agency and other organizations to stop drug activity in Cross County.
"We arrest them. We lock them up. It's up to the prosecutor's office and the DEA's to see where it goes from there," said Davidson. "This town was rattled for so long that people could just run loose and fancy free. Mayor Patterson brought and appointed me Chief of Police and we got the right men to do the right job."
"It's frustrating, but the main thing is and I've been getting it in my head a lot here lately, this is our job to get it off the streets. What the court does with it after we get it off the streets, we have no control of. The one thing we can say is we've done our job," said Balentine.
Region 8 News spoke with residents of Parkin Sunday. They said they have noticed a significant decrease in the amount of visual criminal activity.
"When you go to the grocery store, you don't see so called activity, hand to hand, broad daylight, that's questionable. You go to the gas station, you decide all of the sudden that you'd like a coke or something. You don't have any at home. You don't see on the parking lot, questionable activity," said Mary Whitlock. "Senior citizens are feeling that something is finally being done."
Whitlock said narcotics and other drugs have been problematic for the city over the last 10 years. She said residents are beginning to feel safer than in years past.
"Our seniors didn't come out at night because they did not like to be out after dark because they were afraid," said Whitlock. "They, in turn, are feeling more inclined to trust the police. For so long, they were afraid to pick up the phone and call."