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    Update: 65 Arrested In Meth Ring

    4:50 PM, Apr 23, 2008   |    comments
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    Federal agencies say drugs are a growing problem across Arkansas. In fact, meth busts in the state have jumped 160 percent since 2006. Thursday investigators released details on a major meth ring busted in Arkansas. Local, state and federal law enforcement have made the largest meth bust in Arkansas in recent history after a three year investigation. Officers say more than 65 people have been arrested; 52 of those in Arkansas while four others are still on the run. When officers track down a meth lab it often looks like this with coffee filters, water jugs, propane tanks and lots of cold medicine. "Thank you all for your efforts for your contributions of task force offers for every single aspect of this case that you've assisted with. thank you," say Jane Duke U.S. Attorney for Eastern Arkansas. During a Thursday press conference officials say the meth ring dubbed "Tienda Hielo" meaning "ice store" has come to an end. Ice has a purity level greater than 80%. The headquarters of the meth ring has been operated out of Batesville. Independence County Sheriff Keith Bowers says, “It's not just local people doing this its organized crime with criminal behavior out of Mexico so its country against country and it's a huge battle." After producing the drugs in Mexico traffickers cross borders using Interstate 30 and 40 to route the drugs to Batesville before distributing to cities including Memphis; Kansas City, Des Moines, and Indianapolis. Little Rock DEA officer Bill Bryant adds, “These organizations have stepped up to fill the void of the small toxic labs and they're bringing in multi pounds of methamphetamine ice." The street value of a kilo of pure meth is about $100,000, a one gram bag of meth the size of a sugar packet would cost about $100. The toxicity of amphetamine will close arteries without warning. Meth users are also more prone to be involved with other crimes like theft and murder. Duke says, "If these drugs, these hundred pounds had been distributed on the street in gram quantities this organization would have realized over 11- million dollars. That's substantial." Independence County Sheriff Keith Bowers says this historic bust headquartered in his jurisdiction is the result of multi agency coordination. Bowers adds, “It feels great and of course it's not over with we're still fighting it, but its leaps and bounds from what it use to be." The alleged ring leaders are married couple Octavio and Argelia Herrera, both are behind bars. If found guilty of trafficking meth the suspects could face life in prison. 32 of the 52 suspects arrested are illegal immigrants. Some of the agencies involved include the DEA, U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, ICE, IRS, National Guard, Little Rock and North Little Rock Police Department and many county sheriffs departmants.

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