Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Delta Blues — a massive bust UPDATE

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 2:31 PM

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer image
  • Thyer
UPDATE: U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer said Operation Delta blues had been underway two years and produced seven indictments naming 70 people, including five Helena-West Helena police officers. The top charges are conspiracy to distribute drugs, but include a variety of weapons, money laundering and other charges. More than 50 of those 70 were arrested today in an operation involving more than 800 officers.

Thyer said, as a resident of Northeast Arkansas, he’d long heard of a general belief of corruption in the Delta, but didn’t want to believe it. But he found that police officers were protecting drug dealers and other evidence of public corruption in a probe that targeted the Marianna and Helena-West Helena areas.

Thyer said Helena-West Helena Mayor Arnell Willis had come to see him recently about corruption in his city. He asked for help. Thyer said he couldn’t tell him then what he told him today: “The federal government is here and it is here to stay.” He compared a “small minority” responsible for crimes to sprouting weeds in a garden. He said the government would continue its work until all the weeds in Phillips, Lee and other counties “have been pulled up by their roots.”

An FBI spokesman said the investigation would continue and subpoenas would be served to obtain more information from local governments. She said no one was harmed in arrests today, though one suspect fired shots without hitting anyone.

Here's the full release summarizing the operation. The indictments against the cops detail alleged cash payments and involvement in drug dealing.

At the news conference, FBI Agent in Charge Valarie Parlave said that payments to cops led to some charges being dropped or not pursued. The dropping of charges, by necessity, would require notice to other officers of the court, potentially a line of continuing inquiry.

FROM EARLIER:

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer has scheduled a news conference later today in Helena to announce a "significant" number of indictments and arrests for Operation Delta Blues. Drug charges are a major component of what's to come, but also official corruption.

A couple of lawyers from around the state have sent me notes about the enormous scope of this operation. Those arrested today included no political figures. But the indictment of five Helena-West Helena officers raised suspicions that they might no be alone. The city's new police chief cheered those arrests).

I have an e-mail saying that arrests were made in, among others, Marianna, Rondo, Marvell, Poplar Grove and Helena-West Helena. A National Guard armory was used to hold those arrested.

The first round is a big deal. But there's a belief that key people rounded up today could have information to share on people up the food chain.

More here on the new Helena-West Helena police chief, Uless Wallace, who took over last month, and his vow for action to get tough on drug trafficking and other crime. He told the local paper he'd made 27 drug arrests in recent days — meth, cocaine, prescription drugs and marijuana.

Tags: , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (29)

Showing 1-29 of 29

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-29 of 29

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Ethics Commission begins investigation of Rep. Mike Holcomb

    The state Ethics Commission last week informed a complainant she'd raised sufficient questions about campaign finance filings by Republican Rep. Mike Holcomb to initiate an investigation.
    • Sep 25, 2016
  • Drug companies fight medical marijuana

    Disclosure about financing of the anti-medical marijuana campaign in Arkansas is so far lacking, but it's no secret what's happened in other states — pharmaceutical companies have worked to defeat medical marijuana laws because they create (safer) competition.
    • Sep 25, 2016
  • Ken Starr on the real victim of Baylor rapes

    Kenneth Starr, whose persecutorial past need not be repeated here, gave an extensive interview yesterday with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune and, boy, was it a corker. The football coach was the true victim, said Starr.
    • Sep 25, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Is Arkansas planning to withdraw from PARCC, the Common Core testing consortium?

    Rep. Mark Lowery, a Republican from Maumelle, has introduced a bill that would put the brakes on Arkansas's implementation of standardized testing based on Common Core State Standards. Lowery says the bill is motivated in part because legislators have been told by ADE officials, unofficially, that "the PARCC contract will not be renewed" beyond the current academic year.
    • Feb 3, 2015
  • Eureka Springs City Council passes civil rights ordinance, sets stage for potential lawsuit

    The Eureka Springs City Council last night suspended the rules and hurriedly passed a civil rights ordinance that extends anti-discrimination protection to gay people in employment, housing and public accommodations. It sets up a potential legal challenge if the legislature completes passage of a law aimed at preserving legal discrimination against gay people.
    • Feb 10, 2015
  • Justin Harris used foster daughter in campaign materials, against DHS rules

    State Rep. Justin Harris (R-West Fork) used photos of a foster child his family was planning to adopt during his 2012 re-election campaign. The state Department of Human Services expressly prohibits the public use of photos or any other media that would compromise a foster child's anonymity.
    • Mar 13, 2015

Most Shared

  • George H.W. Bush will vote for Hillary. Or will he?

    Politico reports that Kathleen Harrington Kennedy Townsend says former Republican President George H.W. Bush is voting for Hillary Clinton for president. The article quotes a Bush spokesman as declining to confirm or deny.
  • Who's harming women?

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is an Arkansas Republican. Thus, like the governor and the Republican-majority legislature, she intends to do everything she can to deny women comprehensive medical care, particularly abortion.
  • New normal

    No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history.
  • Additional rape charges filed against Conway doctor

    Special Prosecutor Jason Barrett has added 11 more victims to two others alleging rape by Dr. Robert Rook of Conway.
  • Big Dam Bridge 100 brings big damn complaint about celebrity rider Hincapie

    The Big Dam Bridge 100 is this weekend and one dedicated biker isn't happy about a celebrity rider, admitted doper George Hincapie.

Most Viewed

  • Drug companies fight medical marijuana

    Disclosure about financing of the anti-medical marijuana campaign in Arkansas is so far lacking, but it's no secret what's happened in other states — pharmaceutical companies have worked to defeat medical marijuana laws because they create (safer) competition.
  • NWA voice: Opposition to stadium expansion

    A letter to the editor this morning in Northwest Arkansas voices objections to the Razorback Stadium expansion and outlines some alternative uses for the TV millions that are helping to finance the project.
  • Ken Starr on the real victim of Baylor rapes

    Kenneth Starr, whose persecutorial past need not be repeated here, gave an extensive interview yesterday with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune and, boy, was it a corker. The football coach was the true victim, said Starr.
  • Ethics Commission begins investigation of Rep. Mike Holcomb

    The state Ethics Commission last week informed a complainant she'd raised sufficient questions about campaign finance filings by Republican Rep. Mike Holcomb to initiate an investigation.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation