LITTLE ROCK — In a statement Monday, Chris Thyer said he has resigned as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas at the request of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


Thyer, of Jonesboro, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, said his resignation was effective Friday. He is one of 46 federal prosecutors asked by Sessions to step down.


Patrick Harris of Little Rock, who has served as first assistant U.S. attorney for the past four years, will serve as acting U.S. attorney until President Donald Trump picks a permanent replacement for Thyer.


Kenneth Elser has been serving as acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas since Conner Eldridge resigned to run for U.S. Senate last year. New prosecutors are expected to be appointed to both of Arkansas’ U.S. attorney positions.


“Our laws and our law enforcement agencies are meant to do two things: to allow citizens of the United States to fully realize the pursuit of peace and prosperity, and to arrest and prosecute those who criminally interfere with those freedoms,” Thyer said in his statement.


“I have seen communities where drugs and violence have stolen even the freedom to go for a walk or play in a park because of the brazenness of violent drug dealers,” he said. “For more than six years I have had the privilege of working with local, state and federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors to fight these violent drug dealers. This has been a highlight of my professional life for which I am thankful.”


A graduate of Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas School of Law, Thyer served in the state House of Representatives from 2003 to 2009. He was named U.S. attorney in 2010.


Among the high-profile cases he handled was Operation Delta Blues, in which 71 people, including five police officers, were indicted in connection with an international cocaine ring operating out of West Memphis, Helena-West Helena and Marianna.


Thyer also prosecuted several prominent public officials, including former state Treasurer Martha Shoffner, former Circuit Jude Michael Maggio, former state Rep. Hudson Hallum and former University of Central Arkansas President Lu Hardin.