Authorities Round Up 125 On Drug And Gun Charges
Over eighty people were arrested Wednesday morning on drug and firearms charges in a massive law enforcement operation in Missouri’s Bootheel and northeast Arkansas. Warrants have been issued for 45 more individuals who are now considered fugitives.
The arrests were the culmination of a two-year investigation called H.I.T.S. (High Intensity Traffickign Suppression) that was led by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The operation focused on Caruthersville, Hayti and Kennett in Missouri and Blytheville, Arkansas.
Over 150 law enforcement officers from police departments, sheriffs offices and the Arkansas state police conducted the colossal roundup. Most are charged for drug and firearms trafficking and violent crimes.
Tommy Greenwell is Pemiscot County sheriff. He said it’s no secret there is a lot of violent crime in the Bootheel and in Blytheville.
"Our community down here, we're in a poor county. A lot of people, that's their way of life is generation after generation of drug dealers," Pemiscot County sheriff Tommy Greenwell said. "These firearms on the street, they're in the hands of criminals. It's our job to take them off the street and that's what we're trying to do."
“Our community down here, we’re in a poor county. A lot of people, that’s their way of life is generation after generation of drug dealers,” Greenwell said. “These firearms on the street, they’re in the hands of criminals. It’s our job to take them off the street and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Greenwell said many of the arrested are repeat offenders.
“Most of these targets are previously convicted felons,” Greenwell said. “There may be a few new players in it, but most of them are career criminals and those are the ones they want to target.”
Fifty-two of the 125 defendants will be prosecuted in Pemiscot County. Nineteen will be prosecuted in Dunklin County, where prosecutor Stephen Sokoloff said criminals do not pay attention to state and county boundaries.
“There’s a considerable amount of traffic and interaction among Blytheville, Caruthersville, Hayti and Kennett,” Sokoloff said. “There’s considerable movement among them and a lot of common enterprises that are operating in these areas and that was the focus.”
Twenty-two of the arrested will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri and 19 will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The Arkansas Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will prosecute 14.
The sting operation netted three pounds of meth, three pounds of crack and cocaine and over 26 pounds of marijuana. Authorities seized 108 firearms.