CLEBURNE COUNTY, Ark. – A Cleburne County undercover drug investigation that started in 2017 wrapped its second phase Monday, linking 40 suspects to an operation that authorities are calling “the largest roundup” in the history of the sheriff’s office.
“Stop dealing, leave Cleburne County or prepare to go to jail because we’re coming for you,” Sheriff Chris Brown said from a podium on Monday.
Before sunrise, 75 officers from 21 agencies gathered at the sheriff’s office for a briefing before serving warrants and making arrests. Of the 40 suspects, seven remained on the run, according to the sheriff; those seven will be placed on Cleburne County’s Most Wanted list.
Authorities titled the investigation ‘Operation Lake Ice’. The sting’s first phase finished last year, netting 21 arrests, according to the sheriff. Phase two doubled that.
The investigation specifically targeted meth dealers, according to the sheriff.
“We have to do something,” Deputy Brandon Long says.
“We have to combat the problem, and this is the only way that we know to do it.”
Sheriff Brown stated on Monday that meth is the drug that has become common in the area.
Some of the suspects nabbed on Monday knew it was coming, according to Deputy Long, but others were surprised.
The majority of the arrests came from Cleburne County. Others were in the White County and Faulkner County areas.
The big bust captured the attention of the small town.
“Unfortunately, I’m not surprised to hear it, but I am glad that it’s happened,” Floyd Brimhall, manager at the local Smoke House restaurant says.
“If we can’t get them to quit, maybe we can get them to leave.”