Drug trafficking investigation results in 15 arrests
By Samantha Jones
Fifteen individuals were arrested on Wednesday, June 5, after a year-long investigation into methamphetamine trafficking in Boone County.
According to a press release from the United States Department of Justice, 14 defendants were arrested on federal charges stemming from an investigation occurring over much of the last year. Three additional defendants –– Jason Alvarez, Walter Alvarez and Daniel Perez-Lebron –– had already been arrested in federal charges and are in custody.
On April 9, the release says, Jason Alvarez, Walter Alvarez and Perez-Lebron were arrested by the FBI after a significant seizure of methamphetamine near Alpena. A three-count indictment was issued against the three defendants on May 8, the release says, and it was unsealed on May 10.
Also on May 8, the release says, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging 21 additional individuals in the Harrison area with a large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy related to the Alvarez arrests. The indictments included a total of 15 counts, the release says, all of which involved the distribution of methamphetamine. The indictments were unsealed on June 5 as part of the FBI’s enforcement activities in Harrison.
“This investigation is an example of the great work accomplished by our federal and state law enforcement partners working together to combat these dangerous drugs that are a threat to our communities,” said Duane “Dak” Kees, the United States attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. “These arrests and this seizure of methamphetamine should send a serious message to those in our district that are engaged in the distribution of methamphetamine.”
FBI Special Agent Diane Upchurch, who works in the FBI’s Little Rock field office, said the arrests would not have been possible without the dedicated assistance of the 14th Judicial Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Boone County Sheriff, the Harrison Police Department, the Arkansas National Guard and other FBI field offices.
“We all remain dedicated to the eradication of illegal drug trafficking organizations from our great state,” Upchurch said.
The success of the operation is a direct result of the cooperation between law enforcement professionals, said David Ethredge, prosecuting attorney for the 14th Judicial District.
“Our area is extremely fortunate to have all of these dedicated individuals serving our citizens,” Ethredge said. “Because of these efforts, the influx of methamphetamine into our community and its distribution has been severely disrupted.”
The defendants appearing on the indictment are Zachery Lee Manning, Nathan Ron Collins, Robert Leroy Black, Champayne Lamar Manning, Jerry Don “JD” Richardson, Louis Marcil III, Christy Lynn Reynolds, Malia Ann McEaney, Sydney Lynn Martin, Amanda Marie Wall, Samantha Marie Fitzpatrick, Sherrie Denise Snelling, Michael Allan Barnett, James Andrew Davidson, Jessica Chelsea Starkey, Cristen Shillings, Hailey Danielle Doss-Triplett, Steven Ray Kolling, Darian Brittain, Brayden Thomas Cornelius and Lindsey Brooke Johnson.
The defendants who were arrested on June 5 will be scheduled to appear at the United States District in Fort Smith before Judge Mark Ford in the coming days.