Sixty-one south Arkansas residents were arrested this week on various drug-related charges, the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force announced on Tuesday.
According to a press release, the DTF, working with the Union, Ouachita, Dallas, Columbia, and Calhoun counties' Sheriff's offices; the El Dorado, Smackover, Magnolia, Camden, Bearden, Fordyce and Hampton police departments; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, made the arrests between Jan. 23 and 30.
Officer Jonathan Messer, director of the DTF, said the agencies' investigation started in November.
"The last three days of it was kind of the takedown part of it, if you will. It actually started November 1. We just basically built cases, bought drugs," Messer said, referring to undercover drug purchases. "Some of this stuff came from traffic stops."
Messer declined to share details about the investigation, and said the arrests were spread out over all the counties in the 13th Judicial District.
Starting on Jan. 23, according to the release, the law enforcement agencies involved in the drug bust executed multiple search and arrest warrants across the district. In the searches, police seized 1,011 grams of methamphetamine; 218.8 grams of crack cocaine; 79 grams of powder cocaine; 2,610.4 grams of marijuana; 829 assorted pills; $28,342.65 in cash; one vehicle; and 52 firearms.
Messer said those arrested face charges ranging from delivery and possession of narcotics and possession with intent to deliver to maintaining a drug premises, possession of drug paraphernalia and simultaneous possession of narcotics and firearms.
"Majority of them were felonies, that's safe to say," Messer said.
Messer said it's important for the community to see law enforcement agencies across the district working together, noting that crime often crosses county lines.
"It's not just our big areas; it's our rural areas that's got the same issues. There's drug issues across every county and we're just trying to get a handle on it," he said.