Suspected Mexican Drug Cartel Members Arrested in Arkansas

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Updated (May 15, 4:00 p.m.):
Federal Court officials say all but three of the indicted individuals have been found.

Dwatney Noid turned himself into the U.S. Marshals this morning. Also today, the Marshals arrested Mervin Johnson at a location near 12th and Woodrow in Little Rock. Both had initial appearances in front of a federal judge this afternoon and were ordered detained.
The only defendants who have not been caught are La Tia, Manny Garza and Gerard Trice.

Original story (May 14, 4:00 p.m.):
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Some suspected members of a Mexican drug cartel have been arrested in Arkansas.

The indictment of 16 defendants announced today is the result of a large-scale investigation into cocaine and narcotics trafficking from Mexico to Arkansas, according to Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Randall C. Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Little Rock Field Office.

The 25-count indictment unsealed today was handed down by a federal grand jury on May 2nd. The defendants in Arkansas, Texas, and Mexico face multiple drug offenses.

The indictment alleges the lead defendant, Idalia Ramos Rangel, 57, a/k/a La Tia or Big Momma, is a high-ranking member of the Gulf Cartel who directs a drug trafficking organization based in Matamoros, Mexico. That organization is responsible for the distribution of multiple hundreds of kilograms of cocaine in the United States.

Agents determined that Rangel’s drug trafficking organization is responsible for delivery of more than one hundred kilograms of cocaine in Arkansas. The charges in the Indictment include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, distribution of cocaine and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. All sixteen defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. If convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, each defendant will face a sentence of not less than 10 years to life imprisonment.

“The arrests made in this case have dismantled a primary supply of cocaine into the State of Arkansas,” stated Thyer. “From the Gulf Cartel to prison to the streets of Central Arkansas, this was not a typical case to investigate. I want to thank the FBI for their leadership in this investigation. I also want to acknowledge the significant investigative work the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Little Rock Police Department provided. Those who do business with drug cartels should be on notice that law enforcement is investigating and will commit the resources necessary to punish them for their illegal trafficking.”

“Today, a strong group of dedicated federal, state, and local law enforcement officials from Arkansas to Texas – came together to disrupt a criminal drug enterprise directly linked to the Gulf Cartel,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Randall Coleman. “It was simply a case of outstanding teamwork. In Arkansas, we will continue to work together to disrupt and dismantle those groups who choose to conduct their criminal enterprise activities here.”

According to the indictment, Rangel’s family members are alleged to be involved in the drug distribution conspiracy. Her son, Mohammed Kazam Martinez, a/k/a Mo, a federal inmate in the Bureau of Prisons, recruited inmates in the Federal Correctional Complex at Forrest City, Arkansas, to distribute Rangel’s Gulf Cartel cocaine upon their release from prison. Those inmates included Emmanuel Ilo, a/k/a Chi Chi or Chi, and Mervin Johnson, a/k/a Slim, who the indictment alleges began distributing kilogram and multi-ounce quantities of the cocaine in Central Arkansas upon their release from federal prison. Mohammed Martinez communicated with members of this drug trafficking organization using the prison telephone and e-mail systems to coordinate the distribution of cocaine to, and the collection of drug proceeds from, former federal inmates and others. Another of Rangel’s sons, Homar Martinez, and one of her daughters, Nishme Martinez, are also charged as part of the conspiracy.

The indictment alleges that Ilo distributed Rangel’s Gulf Cartel cocaine to Dwatney Noid; Dwight McLittle, a/k/a D.A.; Lamont Williams, a/k/a Peter Rabbit; Gerard Trice, a/k/a Fly; Tarvars Honorable, a/k/a Pudgy; and others, for redistribution to customers in the Eastern District of Arkansas. The FBI made multiple controlled purchases of cocaine in Central Arkansas totaling more than one kilogram during the investigation of this case.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, with substantial assistance from the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Little Rock Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Gordon and Chris Givens.

DEFENDANTS/CHARGES – 11 in custody – 10 arrested today
Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine:

  • Idalia Ramos Rangel, 57, Matamoros, Mexico
  • Mohammed Kazam Martinez, 31, Beaumount, TX
  • Emanuel Ilo, 34, Little Rock
  • Mervin Johnson, 37, Little Rock
  • Homar Martinez, 31, Brownsville, TX
  • Manuel Garza, 31, Brownsville, TX
  • Jaime Benevides, 27, Austin, TX
  • Nishme Martinez, 26, Austin, TX
  • Denice Duran Martinez, 34, Brownsville, TX
  • Yadira Anahy Martinez, 36, Brownsville, TX
  • Dwatney Noid, 30, Little Rock
  • Dwight McLittle, 27, Little Rock
  • Shanieka Tatum, 35, Little Rock
  • Lamont Williams, 34, Little Rock
  • Gerard Trice, 29, Little Rock
  • Tarvars Honorable, 33, Little Rock
In addition to the conspiracy charges, the following defendants are also charged with the following crimes:
  • Emanuel Ilo, distribution of cocaine (6 counts), use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (2 counts).
  • Mervin Johnson, distribution of cocaine (1 count).
  • Dwatney Noid, distribution of cocaine (2 counts), use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (2 counts).
  • Dwight McLittle, distribution of cocaine (6 counts).
  • Shanieka Tatum, use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (3 counts).
  • Lamont Williams, use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (2 counts).
  • Gerard Trice, use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (2 counts).
  • Tarvars Honorable, distribution of cocaine base (1 count), use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (1 count).

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