HomeArkansas newsArkansas drug traffickers sentenced after guilty pleas in federal court

Arkansas drug traffickers sentenced after guilty pleas in federal court

Arkansas – United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Jonathan D. Ross announced that seven individuals have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in trafficking methamphetamine and fentanyl. These sentences mark a significant step in the fight against drug distribution networks in Arkansas.

A Coordinated Effort Against Drug Trafficking

The seven defendants, involved in distributing significant quantities of methamphetamine and fentanyl tablets across Russellville, Conway, and surrounding communities, faced justice on charges stemming from their illegal activities. From July 2019 through August 2021, their operations contributed to the proliferation of these dangerous drugs, posing a severe risk to public health and safety.

Kyle Harris and Armando Luna were initially indicted on November 3, 2021, with charges focusing on methamphetamine trafficking. The case expanded with a superseding indictment on February 2, 2022, which included additional defendants—Taylor, Chaney, Davis, Helms, and Kriesel—and introduced charges related to firearms and the trafficking of substantial quantities of fentanyl. All defendants entered guilty pleas to the first two counts of the superseding indictment, facing severe sentences due to the gravity of their offenses. Notably, all but Davis were at risk of life imprisonment, underscoring the serious nature of their crimes.

The sentences handed down to the defendants are as follows:

  • Kyle Harris, 36, from Conway, Arkansas, received a 204-month sentence followed by 10 years of supervised release.
  • Armando Luna, 28, from Russellville, Arkansas, was sentenced to 156 months with 5 years of supervised release.
  • Benjamin Taylor, 34, from Atkins, Arkansas, received a 216-month sentence and 5 years of supervised release.
  • Zachery Chaney, 36, also from Russellville, Arkansas, was sentenced to 180 months and 10 years of supervised release.
  • Joseph Davis, 52, from Russellville, Arkansas, received 168 months with 4 years of supervised release.
  • Clara Helms, 32, from Russellville, Arkansas, was sentenced to 98 months and 4 years of supervised release.
  • Blake Kriesel, 28, from Russellville, Arkansas, received a 120-month sentence with 5 years of supervised release.

Also read: Arkansas federal court sentences Texas man to 30 years in prison for illegal ammunition possession

Throughout the investigation, law enforcement officials recovered thousands of fentanyl tablets, methamphetamine, heroin, para-fluorofentanyl, and other controlled substances. The fentanyl tablets, at times disguised in fruit snack packaging and resembling oxycodone tablets, highlight the deceptive methods employed by traffickers. Additionally, multiple firearms were seized, further indicating the dangerous nature of this network.

U.S. Attorney Jonathan D. Ross emphasized the commitment to combating the spread of methamphetamine and fentanyl, stating, “The scourge of methamphetamine and fentanyl continues to destroy lives and communities across our country.” Ross assured that authorities would persist in leveraging every resource to prosecute those involved in distributing these lethal drugs, aiming for the most severe sentences permissible by law.

This operation was a collaborative effort involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Russellville Police Department, the Pope County Sheriff’s Office, the Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force, and the Conway Police Department.

Nathan Kim



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