20 charged in drug-ring bust, Justice Department says

Posted: August 29, 2012 at 3:25 p.m.

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that 20 people have been charged with drug-trafficking and firearms offenses as part of an operation targeting a drug ring centered in Waldron.

The drug-trafficking organization also had ties to Fort Smith, Mena and Dallas, according to Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas; Bill Bryant, assistant special agent in charge of the Little Rock District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Tom Tatum, prosecuting attorney for the 15th Judicial District.

Seventeen of those charged were indicted in federal court and three in Scott County Circuit Court, the Justice Department said in a news release. More than 11 pounds of methamphetamine, more than 70 pounds of marijuana, 28 firearms, two bullet-resistant vests and more than $50,000 were seized as a result of the investigation, the department said.

The investigation included more than 40 controlled purchases of meth from drug-ring members, the department said, citing court documents and discussion, adding that in several cases, minors were involved in drug distribution.

One charged in the case, Miguel Paramo, was under surveillance when he went from Waldron to Irving, Texas, to make a meth pickup and a search of his vehicle after a minor traffic accident yielded about 4 pounds of the drug, the law enforcement agencies allege.

In other instance in the case, the agencies say, a search of a "stash house" turned up 6 pounds of methamphetamine and eight firearms.

Operation Great Scott was coordinated among the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Department of Homeland Security; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force; the Arkansas State Police; the Fort Smith Police Department; the Scott County sheriff’s office; and other local agencies, the Justice Department said.