Operation Shank and Bake In 2017 the FBI North West Arkansas Safe Streets Task force began monitoring a drug trafficking organization in the Western District of Arkansas. During the investigation it was found that large amounts of meth, cocaine, heroin and marijuana were being trafficked into Benton and Washington counties in NW Arkansas. The task force was able to determine that the narcotics were being brought from Los Angeles, California, Dallas Texas and Jackson Mississippi. The Safe Streets Task Force conducted control narcotics purchases and surveillance on the Nicholson Drug Trafficking Organization. In January of 2018 the FBI conducted simultaneous search and arrests warrants in Los Angeles, Dallas, Jackson, Fayetteville and Springdale Arkansas. At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that the Nicholson Drug Trafficking Organization was importing hundreds of pounds of meth into NW Arkansas each year. 13 arrests were made and all have been convicted in Federal Court. On December 11, 2018, Director Christopher Wray, presented an award to Benton County Detective and FBI Safe Streets Task Force Officer James Chamberlin for Operation Shank and Bake.
Former Mena resident James Chamberlin, a Detective with the Benton County Sheriffs Department, was presented with an award from FBI Director Christopher Wray for Chamberlin’s work with the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. The operation called “Shank and Bake” netted 13 arrests and convictions for narcotics trafficking in Benton and Washington Counties. Those convicted were a part of the Nicholson Drug Trafficking Organization whose tentacles reached as far as Los Angeles and back into the Fayetteville area. Chamberlin’s work merited him an award personally given by FBI Director Wray. Chamberlin grew up in the Big Fork area, was a member of the Mena Bearcat football team and graduated from Mena High School in 1997.