Eight federal indictments naming 61 defendants were unsealed Wednesday after law enforcement officers arrested about half of the accused in early-morning roundups in Little Rock and North Little Rock on charges involving heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, guns and suspected drug money.
While 50 of those indicted are from Little Rock, the other Arkansans charged are from Searcy, Springdale, Benton, Jacksonville, Pine Bluff and North Little Rock.
The 25 people arrested Wednesday joined 27 who were already in custody, resulting in 52 of the 61 defendants being behind bars. The U.S. attorney’s office said Wednesday afternoon that nine people, including a 54-year-old man from El Paso, Texas, remained at large. That man, Hector Soto, is the only out-of-stater charged.
The largest indictment, which names 33 people facing 67 charges altogether, describes Aaron “Black” Clark, 35, of 207 Cherrybark Drive in the Woodcreek neighborhood off Chenal Parkway in Little Rock as the leader of two conspiracies — one focused on heroin distribution, the other on cocaine distribution.
Federal agents executed a search warrant at Clark’s home in November, seizing more than $100,000 in cash and jewelry, 170 grams (more than a third of a pound) of heroin, a marijuana growing operation and six guns, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Clark is accused of leading the conspiracies in the Eastern District of Arkansas between December 2015 and May of this year. He is facing seven charges, including two gun charges. The indictment notes that he has two 2003 convictions — one a federal cocaine-distribution conviction from Texas, and the other for manufacturing, delivery and possession of marijuana in Faulkner County.
The execution of arrest warrants Wednesday went smoothly and stemmed from an 18-month investigation into several drug-trafficking organizations