|Updated: 10/13/2011 10:22 pm
||Published: 10/13/2011 4:21 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - You don't see lines like this outside of the federal courthouse in Little Rock everyday. Then again, bus loads of prisoners aren't dropped off at the Pulaski County jail and then taken to and from the courthouse in vans every day either.
It all stems from Operation Delta Blues, a massive 2-year federal investigation focusing on public corruption and drug trafficking in Eastern Arkansas.
"I just feel like a lot of people gonna be affected by it, and it's crazy."
Crystal McShane is one of many people who are either friends or family members of one of the 63 defendants called before the judge, mostly from Helena-West Helena.
"People steal, rob, hustle, sell drugs,” McShane said. “Anything to make their money."
And according to the government, that includes five of the defendants who are police officers. Federal indictments say all of them protected drug traffickers in exchange for money. They all pleaded not guilty today, just like every other defendant. As for the circus-like atmosphere at the courthouse -
"It's not common obviously because we don't see it that often."
Michael Johnson is a former US attorney so he's seen situations like this before. He says even though the judge gave the defendants November court dates today, that's likely to change.
"If history is a teacher, and it's a good one, the likelihood that all of these people will go to trial is very small,” Johnson said. “It's much more likely that a number of them will plead guilty or have their cases disposed of in some way and a smaller number will go to trial."