LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Federal agents made a dent in a massive drug trafficking operation that began in Mexico and was distributed in Arkansas.
Authorities arrested 10 people in connection with the cocaine smuggling, and five were from Little Rock. Tavars Honorable, Emanuel Ilo, Dwight McLittle, Shanikea Tatum, and Lamont Williams were arrested on counts of distribution of cocaine and facilitating drug trafficking.
Federal agents believe this operation is part of the Gulf Cartel. The Arkansas connection starts with Mo Martinez. Agents believe Martinez, who is now in custody in Texas, recruited inmates from prison while in Forrest City. Martinez's mother, Idalia Rangel is a fugitive of the U.S. and is believed to be a high ranking official in the cartel.
"We believe that at trial, we'll be able to prove that the Ramos-Rangel DTO imported in excess of 200 kilograms of cocaine directly into the Arkansas and Little Rock market," said Christopher Thyer, US District Attorney, Eastern District of Arkansas.
While Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas could not link direct crime in the capital city to the drug operation, he said they usually go hand in hand.
"We're hoping that the light shined on this investigation and these indictments will perhaps dissuade them from that direction," said Thomas.
Three other Little Rock suspects were charged. Mervin Johnson, Dwatney Noid, and Gerard Trice are still on the loose, and authorities do not know if they are still in the Little Rock area.
Agents told THV 11 that this investigation began in 2010. Depending on the amount of how much they sold, these drug runners could serve between 1 and 20 years in prison.