LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Federal agents say an investigation into a drug distribution ring in North Little Rock led to multiple arrests and the seizure of drugs and guns Tuesday.

According to a release from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the Drug Enforcement Admiration arrested 13 people as part of Operation Hartbreak Kid, which was named after the man agents believe to be the lead defendant in the case, 27-year-old Derrick Hart.

The North Little Rock man appeared in federal court Wednesday after being arrested Tuesday morning.

The DEA began investigating the McAlmont neighborhood-based methamphetamine and cocaine distribution ring in December of last year after getting complaints from area residents about gunfire and drug trafficking in the area.

Agents believe the drug ring operated from a parking lot at the corner of Zinnia Street and Cotton Road, as well as a local McAlmont club at 410 Mimosa St.

During the investigation, agents identified Hart and 43-year-old Tetus Jenkins of North Little Rock as the supply sources of more than eight other people.

“This investigation involved the seizure of various illegal drugs ranging from marijuana to fentanyl, along with several firearms,” Thomas Noyes, Inspector in Charge of the Fort Worth Division of the postal inspectors service said.

DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jarad Harper explained the organization used the mail system to evade detection.

Investigators said they conducted an undercover purchase of approximately two pounds of meth from various co-conspirators. Authorities then executed a search warrant, seizing more than a pound of meth and several firearms. Officers recovered an additional AR-15 rifle during Tuesday’s arrest, the release noted.

In addition to Hart and Jenkins, other people arrested Tuesday include

  • Jonathan Dunigan, 23, of Austin
  • Andre Graves, 44, of Little Rock
  • Bianca Lavonda, 33, of North Little Rock
  • Prince Strong, 37, of Jacksonville
  • Steven Taylor, 64, of Jacksonville
  • Daniel White, 34, of North Little Rock
  • Dayton Wiggins, Jr., 47, of Jacksonville
  • Justin Cross, 29, of North Little Rock

Seven other people have been arrested in separate indictments in connection with this operation, the release noted.

Several agencies were involved in this investigation including the DEA with help from the postal inspectors’ service. U.S. Marshals Service, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Community Corrections, North Little Rock Police Department and other central Arkansas police departments.

Drug task force investigators believe that this operation may be a part of higher-level organizations.

Jonathan Ross is the Acting U.S. Attorney for Arkansas’ Eastern District. He said McAlmont residents stopped reporting gunshots in the area because of their frequency. He said people in the neighborhood are safer after these arrests.

“We hope that the community members of McAlmont see that we see them,” Ross said. “We care about violence in their community and every other community.”

Currently, the case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gardner.