LITTLE ROCK — Authorities on Tuesday arrested 11 of 13 people charged in a federal indictment with drug and weapons offenses in connection with an alleged methamphetamine ring based in Blytheville, according to Chris Thyer, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Six of the defendants were arrested in Blytheville, one in Jonesboro, one in Malden, Mo., and one in Steele, Mo., Thyer said in a news release. Two other defendants were served with arrest warrants while already incarcerated in the Dunklin County, Mo., jail.
The two remaining people named in the indictment, Brad Vernon, 34, of Gosnell and Joseph Riley, 30, of Blytheville, were still at large Tuesday afternoon.
The defendants arrested Tuesday are set to appear in U.S. District Court in Little Rock on Thursday.
The indictment and arrests resulted from a joint investigation between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Thyer said that in mid-2015 agents began coordinating small controlled buys of meth from people in Missouri, and over time the sellers led informants to their main suppliers in Blytheville for buys of up to a quarter-pound at a time.
Arther Lionel James, 38, and Robert Lamont Brown, 39, both of Blytheville, are accused of being the leaders of the meth ring, Thyer said. Agents obtained more than a kilogram of meth from the ring through 17 controlled buys and seized nine firearms from James, Brown and Antonio McNichols, 46, of Blytheville, all of whom are convicted felons, he said.
The indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury on Oct. 6 and unsealed Tuesday. Charges include conspiracy to possess meth with intent to distribute, distribution of meth, being a felon in possession of firearms and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime.
In addition to those named above, the defendants include Antonio Brodie, age unknown, Justin Buys, 31, Heath Fowler, 40, Keith Keys, 49, and Lewis Miles, 45, all of Blytheville; Adam Bailey, 35, and Angeleke Blankenship, 43, both of Kennett, Mo.; and Steven Thomas, 31, of Steele.