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Drug Trafficking, Gang Violence Sweep in Hot Springs

Dozens charged in "Operation Spa City."
HOT SPRINGS, AR (News Release) - Twenty-four individuals have been charged with offenses stemming from gang violence, drug trafficking, and the use of firearms in the Hot Springs area.

A total of 19 indictments were returned by the Grand Jury. The charges include the distribution of methamphetamine and crack cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. All but one defendant have prior felony convictions, and several are considered career offenders.

“Hot Springs has been plagued by violence and drug trafficking. As a result of the diligence of this investigation, the dangerous illegal activity in Hot Springs has been disrupted, and we have taken a large step forward in making the community a safer place. For this reason, we remain committed to prosecuting violent offenses, drug trafficking crimes, and felon in possession of a firearm cases – across the Western District of Arkansas,” said Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

The following individuals have been charged: James Barron, 38; Carlos Brewer, 35; Terry Conway, 51; James Dawson, 41; Allen Fair, 28; Chris Fugate, 22;  Anthony Gillespie, 22; Shane Godbold, 32; Tyrong Godbold, 42; Roland Goss, 37; Michael Jordan, 30; Quinton Kingsby, 32; Courtney Lemons, 35; Paul Nutt, 22; Jared Pope, 37; John Potter, 32; Gregory Thompson, 29; Richard Stapleton, 37; Michael Walker, 48; Jamal Wiley, 31; Stedman Wiley, 25; Marchello Willis, 30; Labarrya Wimbley, 22; and Tommy Woodfork, 40, all of Hot Springs. 

“The Hot Springs Police Department is committed to utilizing every lawful means possible in an effort to eliminate the use, sale, and distribution of illegal drugs in our community. The past twelve months, we have partnered with the ATF and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas in a major drug investigation targeting over twenty suspects, all of whom live within Hot Springs and/or Garland County. These twenty suspects were identified by undercover agents as those who have key roles within the drug trafficking underground in our community. Many of these suspects have extensive arrest histories for offenses such as possession, sale, and/or the manufacture of drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. Most all of these suspects are known to carry firearms and are strongly affiliated with known gangs who have a propensity for violence,” said David Flory, Hot Springs Police Chief.

“This investigation has culminated in the return of over 20 federal indictments on a total of twenty-four suspects. As of Thursday, June 13, 2013 members of the ATF, HSPD SWAT Team, and the 18th East Judicial Drug Task Force are actively in the field attempting to take into custody each one of these suspects. It is believed that the arrests of these twenty-four suspects will have a significant impact on the drug trafficking operations within Hot Springs, Garland County and the surrounding area,” Chief Flory added.

Beginning in March of 2012, the Hot Springs Street Crimes Unit in conjunction with the ATF launched an investigation in response to the emerging gang violence and drug trafficking. Over 80 controlled buys of crack cocaine and methamphetamine were conducted during the course of this investigation. The investigation has resulted in the seizure of over 500 grams of crack cocaine, seven vehicles valued at over $50,000, 17 firearms, methamphetamine, and over $15,000 in cash.

“Protecting our communities from the illegal use and trafficking of firearms is a major part of ATF’s mission, and our primary goal is to reduce the number of homicides and other violent crimes committed with firearms. ATF and our law enforcement partners will continue our resolve to work together to reduce the illegal use of firearms and to dismantle violent gangs. Any guns taken from the hands of violent offenders will make our communities a safer place to live.  I hope that the success of this coordinated joint investigation sends a strong message to those who choose to bring guns, drugs and violence into our neighborhoods,” said Phillip Durham, Special Agent in Charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”).

Several of the defendants have previously committed three or more violent felonies or serious drug offenses and face a maximum term of life imprisonment if convicted of the charges.

People in the community are pleased with the arrests.

"You got families being destroyed for that kind of stuff. It's like people are more worried about getting their drug fix than taking care of their kids and feeding them." said Elizabeth Newton.

Torrey Williams agrees.

"I would think it is a good thing for certain areas. It's always a good thing to try to clean up the streets and stuff like that," said Williams.

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