2 year investigation uncovers 70 drug, gun offenders in Blythevi - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

2 year investigation uncovers 70 drug, gun offenders in Blytheville, AR

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Federal agents in Blytheville, Arkansas, cracked down on criminals wanted on illegal drug and gun charges.

Tuesday, they unsealed 40 federal indictments charging 70 people in major crimes. The operation aimed to curb drug trafficking and drug violence in Blytheville and Mississippi County. 

The indictments were returned by a Grand Jury on August 5, and were unsealed today following a coordinated effort from multiple agencies including, USAO, ATF, U.S. Marshals, DEA, IRS, 2nd Judicial DTF, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas National Guard Counter Drug Unit, Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office, the Blytheville and Oseola Police Departments and the SE Missouri Drug Task Force.

More than 550 officers participated in the early morning raid.

It started at 4:15 Tuesday morning in an armory parking lot. Law enforcement agents from around Mississippi County began making arrests as part of “Operation Blynd Justus.”

Federal agents said today's bust was the culmination of 18 months of federal investigations into gun and drug trafficking in Mississippi County.

"Very brave men and woman who risked their lives this morning to give the citizens of Mississippi County an opportunity for a better life," said David Resch of the FBI.

The operation began in 2013. The first undercover purchase of drugs and guns happened in January 2014. In all, they ceased or purchased 89 guns, all stolen or purchased illegally. Some were returned to their original owners.

"In July of 2013 we purchased three guns from someone,” said US Attorney for Eastern District Arkansas Christopher Thyer. “One of these guns was still in the box and had its original owners name on it.  It had been reported just two days before that."

Many times they purchased multiple guns. In one instance, they purchased 15.

From January 2014 to June 2015, agents with the FBI and second Judicial District Drug Task Force coordinated more than 160 controlled purchases of drugs and/or guns, resulting in 19.5 pounds of methamphetamine and 89 illegally possessed firearms, several of which were stolen.

They also purchased more than 10 ounces of crack cocaine.  Defendants arrested Tuesday will be arraigned in federal court in Little Rock on Thursday, August 13, 2015. Those who were already in custody will be arraigned on August 27 at 2 p.m.

The majority of the suspects had already had violent felony charges on their record and will now face a new batch of charges.

People in Blytheville said they are breathing a sigh of relief that these people are off the streets.

"I had citizens coming into the street and applauding our tactical team, men coming up and saying thank you. Woman coming up saying this was the answer to their prayers," Resch said.

Officials said this bust had nothing to do with the violent shooting this past weekend that injured a dozen.

Two search warrants were executed on properties this morning. The IRS is continuing a financial investigation on the owners.

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