WEST MEMPHIS, AR (KAIT) - Law enforcement officials arrested 20 people in West Memphis Monday morning in connection to a drug trafficking sting.
According to U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer, the suspects arrested were regional distributors and most were from Crittenden County.
They are charged with drug conspiracy and firearms offenses.
Police officers recovered more than 500 grams of cocaine and 28 grams of crack cocaine. They also seized several weapons during the arrests.
"We picked the worst of the worst in conducting the investigation that led to today's arrests of 20 people. Many of the people we arrested today have extensive felony records consisting of violent crimes, including murders and aggravated assaults," FBI assistant special agent David Shepard said.
These arrests stemmed from an almost three-year investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, Arkansas State Police and West Memphis Police Department called, "Delta Crossroads."
"We appreciate their assistance and hard work," prosecuting attorney Scott Ellington said.
"The indictment alleges Rafael McDaniel led this drug trafficking organization with substantial assistance from Wendell Glenn and David Green," Eastern District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer said.
A group West Memphis Police said they were very familiar with.
"The right ones. The ones that we needed to get out of our community," West Memphis Police Chief Donald Oakes said.
Officials made the arrests from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Monday, and not just in Crittenden County, but also in Houston, Boston and northern Mississippi.
Thyer said the violent crime rate in Crittenden County is three times higher than the national and state violent crime rates. Thyer said that rate is directly proportional to drugs and gangs.
"By far, the most effective way we tackle that problem is by cooperation between the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies," Thyer said. "Today is a good step in lowering the violent crime rate. We can make a meaningful dent in the crime rate, not only here in Arkansas, but the rest of the country."
"This is just the first 20. There'll be more," Shepard said. "We will continue to attack this problem. We're not going away."
Each person arrested Monday will appear in court Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 11 a.m.
Read the entire indictment here.