13 indicted as part of Blytheville-based meth trafficking ring

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BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. — Several law enforcement agencies worked together to indict 13 people on drug and weapons charges related to a methamphetamine trafficking ring, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

A grand jury handed down the indictments Oct. 6, and 11 of the 13 people indicted were arrested Tuesday, the DOJ said.

The other two, Brad Vernon and Joseph Riley, remain at large.

The trafficking organization was based in Blytheville. Law enforcement made the arrests in Blytheville, Jonesboro and southeast Missouri.

Two of the defendants were already locked up in Dunklin County, Missouri, when law enforcement served this new arrest warrant.

“We remain resolute in our continuing effort to help the people of northeast Arkansas, and the Delta in general, combat the plague of methamphetamine and gun violence,” federal attorney Christopher R. Thyer said. “If the drugs dealers won’t go away, neither will we. While past law enforcement operations have slowed the drug trade in northeast Arkansas.”

Thyer added people from neighboring states have been coming to Blytheville to buy meth.

The investigation that led to these indictments started in 2015 and involved undercover work.

Undercover officers bought more than a kilogram of meth in 17 purchases from the trafficking organization, according to the DOJ. Agents also seized nine weapons from defendants Arther Lionel James, Robert Lamont Brown and Antonio McNichols, who are convicted felons.

Together, the 13 defendants face 28 counts of charges including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine, felon in possession of firearms and the use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.

The following people were indicted, per the DOJ:

  • Arther Lionel JAMES, 38, Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Brad VERNON, 34, Gosnell (fugitive)
  • Adam BAILEY, 35, Kennett, MO (incarcerated in Dunklin, Co., MO, Jail)
  • Angeleke BLANKENSHIP, 43, Kennett, MO (arrested in Malden, MO)
  • Antonio BRODIE, Blytheville (arrested in Jonesboro)
  • Justin BUYS, 31, Blytheville (incarcerated in Dunklin, Co., MO, Jail)
  • Heath FOWLER, 40, Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Keith KEYS, 49, Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Antonio McNICHOLS, 46, Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Lewis MILES, 45, Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Joseph RILEY, 30, Blytheville (fugitive)
  • Robert Lamont BROWN, 39, Blytheville (arrested in Blytheville)
  • Steven THOMAS, 31, Steele, MO (arrested in Steele, MO)

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