NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR – An investigation into what federal officials call a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking organization based in North Little Rock has resulted in dozens of arrests.
A roundup of suspects (see list attached above or click here) started early Tuesday morning and sent 20 to jail. Twelve others had already been arrested on the original indictment, and four defendants are still at large. On Thursday, 26 defendants were arraigned by Federal Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney. Six more will be arraigned on March 24.
Four defendants who remain at large are identified as:
- Jesse Berry, 35, of North Little Rock
- Heather Grady, 31, of North Little Rock
- Michelle Zomaya, 33, of North Little Rock
- Billy Crews, 56, of Benton
The charges they face range from conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, multiple counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and multiple gun charges.
The investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began in January 2014 and also involved several local law enforcement agencies.
“The charges set forth in the 77-count indictment are only possible because of the investigative cooperation of many law enforcement agencies,” stated Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas in a news release. “Their commitment to excellent investigative teamwork, not only takes the meth out of our neighborhoods, but also allows my office to bring large multi-count indictments against the drug dealers to remove them and their weapons from our streets.”
“These arrests mark the final blow reflecting the successful dismantlement of this large scale methamphetamine trafficking organization,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Downing. “By removing these criminals from the streets of Arkansas and Arizona, they can no longer distribute this toxic poison to our communities. Through remarkable partnerships with local law enforcement, we are making major progress in preventing meth trafficking from taking hold in our communities. This investigation is a compelling example of that success,” said Downing.
According to Thyer’s news release, the DEA investigation used undercover officers to conduct multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine and numerous other law enforcement actions, including seizures of methamphetamine. In Operation Falcons’ Ridge the DEA made 16 controlled purchases and executed nine search warrants in seizing nearly two pounds of methamphetamine. In addition, during the execution of the search warrant in Arizona which led to the arrest of four defendants, agents found evidence of approximately 11 pounds of methamphetamine which was destroyed as the search team was entering the residence. The street value of one pound of meth is $13,000 to $15,000.
This organization, headed in Arkansas by Michael Glover and in Arizona by Michael Polito, was based in North Little Rock. It is believed that Glover and associates made numerous trips to Arizona to obtain bulk quantities of methamphetamine, which was then brought back to central Arkansas and distributed. Included in the indictment were several counts which called for the forfeiture of multiple firearms and more than $10,000 which is believed to be the proceeds of drug trafficking.
The superseding indictment charges 36 defendants in 77 separate counts. All defendants except for Polito are residents of central Arkansas. Glover, John Boyce, Brent McNair, and Kallie Shae Lewis were arrested in Arizona following a trip to acquire bulk methamphetamine in October 2014, and later charged in a federal criminal complaint. The original indictment, which charged 12 defendants, including the four arrested in Arizona, was handed down by a Federal Grand Jury on November 5, 2014, The superseding indictment was handed down by a Federal Grand Jury on March 3, 2015. The counts include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, felon in possession of firearms, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and the use of telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. If convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine each defendant will face a sentence of not less than 10 years to life imprisonment.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA, with assistance from several law enforcement agencies including the North Little Rock Police Department, the Little Rock Police Department, the Sherwood Police Department, the Benton Police Department, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office, the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office, the Saline County Sheriff’s Office, and the Arkansas National Guard. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Chris Givens and Michael Gordon.