JONESBORO—Fifteen people were arrested Tuesday morning as part of a sweeping law enforcement operation that targeted associates of a drug organization responsible for the distribution of methamphetamine in the Northeast Arkansas area. Law enforcement officers previously arrested one person on Monday and served arrest warrants on an additional three people already in custody.
      The investigation began in August 2022 to combat a significant drug distribution organization operating in the Northeast Arkansas area. Numerous indictments, which were returned by a Grand Jury on April 2, 2024, and unsealed today, named several defendants who are charged with various drug, money laundering, and firearm offenses. Law enforcement officers arrested 15 individuals and served an arrest warrant Tuesday on two defendants already in federal custody and one in state custody.
      Prior to today’s arrests, the investigation had resulted in the seizure of 45 pounds of methamphetamine, 10 pounds of marijuana, one pound of cocaine, six firearms, various ammunition, and $125,000 in drug proceeds. During arrest operations on Tuesday, agents recovered additional methamphetamine, three firearms (one of which was defaced), ammunition, and approximately an additional $28,000 in suspected drug proceeds.
      “So many lives and communities have been destroyed by drugs and with today’s arrests, fifteen drug dealers have been taken off the streets,” said Jonathan D. Ross, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. “Where drugs are present, so are firearms and violence. Working with our federal, state, and local partners to keep our citizens safe from the violence that too often accompanies drug trafficking, will help to create safer communities for citizens in the Eastern District of Arkansas.”
      “Today’s arrests demonstrate how the FBI has zero tolerance for criminals who pollute our communities with dangerous narcotics,” Special Agent in Charge Alicia D. Corder, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Little Rock Field Office. “This was a collaborative effort between the FBI, Jonesboro Police Department, Craighead County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, and several others. We will continue to work together to keep Arkansans safe and bring dangerous criminals to justice.”
      The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration, 2ndJudicial District Drug Task Force, Jonesboro Police Department, Craighead County Sheriff’s Office, Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Poinsett County Sheriff’s Office, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
      The charges in today’s unsealed indictments include conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine; distribution and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; conspiracy to money launder, money laundering, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
      The minimum penalty for the drug charges is not less than 10 years’ imprisonment and a $10,000,000 fine. The minimum penalty for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime is not less than five years in prison and up to life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
      This investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
      The defendants arrested today will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Benecia B. Moore on April 18, 2024, for plea and arraignment. Defendants who were already in custody will have arraignments scheduled later. Trial dates will be announced at plea and arraignment. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erin O’Leary. The defendants charged and in custody include:
Cesar Cortez-Rocha, 51, Misson, Texas
Amado Barranco, Jr. aka “Myo”, 55, McAllen, Texas
Bobby Franklin Barber, 60, Jonesboro
Misty Dawn Barber, 38, Jonesboro
Jamie Lynn Patterson, 40, Jonesboro
*Amie Dawn Eggers, 39, Jonesboro (already in federal custody on other charges)
Carey Wayne Peden, 46, Little Rock
Vance Allen Brown, 56, Hot Springs
*Sir Edward Lee Qualls aka “Buddy”, 35, Earle (already in federal custody on related charges)
Reginald Bogan aka “Smooth”, 37, Jonesboro
**Melissa Bradley, 33, Jonesboro (already in custody on state charges)
Jerry Crump, 55, Jonesboro
Sandi Stanfill, 59, Paragould
Delisha Pugh, 25, Earle
Jennifer Jones, 37, Brookland
William Jones, 28, Harrisburg
Marcus McIntyre, 42, Memphis, Tennessee
Harthoner Goforth, 38, Paragould
Shauna Rutledge, 37, Hughes

  • already in federal custody
    ** in state custody
          An indictment contains only allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.