Federal lawmen commended the role that state and local agencies played in the sweep Thursday which netted 11 Hope-area drug trafficking suspects.

Federal lawmen commended the role that state and local agencies played in the sweep Thursday which netted 11 Hope-area drug trafficking suspects.

Connor Eldridge, U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced the charges Thursday afternoon which stem from seven separate indictments issued and arrest warrants executed between January, 2013, and Thursday. Charged with federal counts involving the sale or distribution of methamphetamine were Adrian Dabila Aranda, 34; Ishmael Aranda, Jr., 19; Christian Archer, 29; Laquan D. Haynes, 29; James L. Block, 24; Brodney J. Dixon, 28; Billy R. Florence, 31; Lamario D. Henderson, 25; Carlos Leonel Silva, 29; Phil Stuard, Jr., 30; and Deshawn G. White, 25, all from the Hope area.


“Like many small towns, Hope has been plagued by drug trafficking,” he said. “With this case, numerous drug traffickers in the area have been arrested and are being prosecuted.


“Cleaning up drug activity is vital to the success and growth of Hope, as it is for all communities,” Eldridge said. “We appreciate the hard work of all agencies involved in the investigation of this case, and will continue to vigorously prosecute this type of activity throughout the Western District of Arkansas.”


Eighth Judicial District-North Prosecuting Attorney Christi McQueen joined in commending the effort.


"I'm grateful for the cooperation of local, state, and federal officials that resulted in these arrests,” McQueen said Thursday. “Methamphetamine is a scourge of our nation and this area. All men and women who are successfully fighting it deserve our appreciation and support."


She said staunching the flow of drugs in Southwest Arkansas will continue to require joint efforts.


“Drug crimes take up a lot of time in our office and in our courts, but as prosecutors, we are willing to work had to fight drug activity and its effects on our community,” McQueen said. “The partnering of these agencies increases law enforcement manpower and their ability to gather information on criminals operating in multiple jurisdictions, as well as provides a more economic use of resources. I have supported and will continue to support this joint effort.”


Agencies involved in the investigation included the FBI, South Central Drug Task Force, Bi-State Narcotics Task Force, Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office, Hope Police Department, Howard County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, and Department of Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Matt Quinn is prosecuting the cases for the United States.


Hope Police Department Assistant Chief Kim Tomlin said Thursday the HPD is pleased with the result.


“We are super proud of the work they have done,” Tomlin said. “We assisted in the arrests on two of the warrants, and they used our canine.”


Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton was not available for comment at press time Friday.


The FBI also expressed its appreciation to local lawmen.


“I can’t overstate the power of partnerships in fighting today’s organized drug activities,” FBI Special Agent in Charge David T. Resch said Thursday. “Today’s arrests of 11 individuals for distributing methamphetamine in Hempstead and Howard Counties is the result of hard work by our partners.


“Along with thanking those who serve on the South Central and Bi-State Narcotics Task Forces, I would like to thank the Hempstead and Howard County Sheriff’s Offices, the Hope Police Department, the Arkansas State Police, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Eighth Judicial District-North Prosecutor Christi McQueen, all of whose efforts contributed to today’s arrests.”