'Large-scale drug trafficking operation' ends with roundup

'Large-scale drug trafficking operation' ends with roundup

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Thirteen people face multiple drug and weapons charges following an early morning roundup in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri.

An investigation into a "large-scale drug trafficking organization" based in Blytheville resulted in the Tuesday morning arrests of six people in Blytheville, one person in Jonesboro, and two others in Malden and Steele, MO.

Two of the 13 suspects were served arrest warrants while locked up in the Dunklin County Jail.

The other two indicted suspects, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer, are still at large.

The investigation began in 2015 with a series of small controlled purchases of methamphetamine, Thyer said.

Eventually, he said the targets brought the informants to their main meth suppliers in Blytheville to buy larger amounts, up to quarter-pounds at a time.

"All told, officers purchased more than one kilogram (1000 grams) of methamphetamine from the Arther James and Robert Brown drug-trafficking organization in 17 controlled purchases," Thyer said.

In addition to the arrests, agents also seized five firearms. Four others were seized during search warrants conducted during the investigation.

Tuesday's arrests came after a federal grand jury handed down an indictment on Oct. 6. The indictment charges the defendants in 28 separate counts, including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, felon in possession of firearms, and the use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.

Those indicted included:

  • Arther Lionel James, 38, of Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Brad Vernon, 34, of Gosnell (fugitive)
  • Adam Bailey, 35, of Kennett (incarcerated in Dunklin Co. Jail)
  • Angeleke Blankenship, 43, of Kennett (arrested in Malden)
  • Antonio Brodie of Blytheville (arrested in Jonesboro)
  • Justin Buys, 31, of Blytheville (incarcerated in Dunklin Co. Jail)
  • Heath Fowler, 40, of Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Keith Keys, 49, of Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Antonio McNichols, 46, of Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Lewis Miles, 45, of Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Joseph Riley, 30, of Blytheville (fugitive)
  • Robert Lamont Brown, 39, of Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Steven Thomas, 31, of Steele (arrested in Steele)

Thyer said the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives jointly led the investigation with assistance from the Blytheville and Osceola Police Departments, Mississippi County Sheriff's Office, Arkansas Highway Police, and the Second Judicial District Drug Task Force.

The indictments handed down by the grand jury:

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