LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A group of convicted felons described as some of the most violent offenders in Pulaski County now face federal indictments on gun and drug charges after being targeted in a Violence Reduction Network (VRN) initiative in recent months.
Separate federal cases involving 41 individuals (see list here) were announced in a news conference in downtown Little Rock on Tuesday afternoon.
"All of these individuals have a long history of drug trafficking, violent felonies, or both," said Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. "They are truly among the worst of the worst criminals in Pulaski County."
Thyer continued, "No one would tell you that the violence is acceptable... We are working everyday on violence reduction network cases..."
The following are some of the people who have been arrested under the "Violent Reduction Network" by Little Rock Police.
“The individuals targeted in our VRN initiative are among the most dangerous members of their community,” Thyer said. “Removing them and their guns from the streets of Pulaski County is a top priority, and makes our community a safer place to live. But know this — while we are pleased to announce these 41 indictments, by no means are the law enforcement officers of this community finished with the work of seeking out and stopping those individuals who unfortunately bring gun violence into everyday life.”
Little Rock joined the VRN initiative in 2015.
Through the VRN, the Justice Department enlists tactical and operational expertise available from its various federal components to assist local police forces in targeted efforts to eliminate the worst criminals from communities. Little Rock, along with West Memphis, will be a part of the VRN through September.
The LRPD, NLRPD, FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) and the U.S. Attorney's Office are collaborating their efforts to stop crime in Arkansas.
"...These collaborative efforts are in the pursuit of a safer living environment for the citizens of both Little Rock and North Little Rock, and that the ATF will be unwavering in that mission,”Jeffrey Reed, Resident Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), said.
The prior convictions of the 41 defendants include manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, car-jacking, robbery and aggravated robbery, residential burglary, domestic battery, delivery of controlled substances and possession with intent to deliver controlled substances, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Forty of the 41 indictments announced Tuesday contain various federal gun charges, including being a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition, possessing a firearm while under a felony information, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime (see attached list).
In addition, several defendants are charged with stand-alone drug crimes.
Four of the defendants are still pending arrest, while the remaining 37 are in various stages of prosecution.
“We have at least one officer assigned to ATF, FBI, DEA, USMS, and IRS. These relationships are essential to providing public safety in the capitol city,” Kenton Buckner, LRPD Chief, said.
The indictments primarily stemmed from cases initially investigated by the Little Rock Police Department or the North Little Rock Police Department. Following state arrests in many instances, these cases were then recommended for federal prosecution by the Sixth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Cases targeted for federal prosecution include those with defendants who have extensive or violent criminal history, or whose present crime is particularly egregious or violent.
Tuesday's press conference was held by the following Arkansas officials: Christopher R. Thyer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Jeffrey Reed, Resident Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), Larry Jegley, Prosecuting Attorney for the 6th Judicial District, Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the FBI, Kenton Buckner, Chief of the Little Rock Police Department (LRPD), and Mike Davis, Chief of the North Little Rock Police Department (NLRPD).
It was also announced Tuesday as part of the VRN initiative that two suspects have been charged for a 2015 jewelry store robbery in Little Rock.