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Charges brought against cartel

Staff Report

FORT SMITH —More than half a pound of methamphetamine was brought to northwest Arkansas by individuals with ties to a Mexican cartel, according to charges filed against 22 defendants across Sebastian, Crawford and Logan counties.

The defendants — 14 of whom were arrested Thursday in the Western District of Arkansas’ Operation Bear Mountain Bingo — were arrested from an indictment with 15 counts related to meth distribution and money laundering. The Times Records reported the defeats allegedly dealt 280 grams of meth in the three counties as they resided on both sides of the Arkansas-Oklahoma state line, according to court and arrest records.

The 14 defendants arrested Thursday allegedly have ties to Mexico and the Jalisco New Generation Mexican cartel, according to a Western District news release. The charges to all 18 defendants are part of “a large-scale, multi-state drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy,” according to a Thursday news release from the Western District.

Cartels are commonly at the top of the supply chain for local drug dealing operations, according to 12th and 21st District Drug Task Force Director Paul Smith.

The indictment for the 18 defendants alleges all of them at least as early as Jan. 1, 2019, to July 28, 2020, conspired to distribute a substance containing meth.

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