John Wesley Hall

Little Rock Criminal Law Blog

Arkansas men sentenced for methamphetamine trafficking

The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas has reported that three men have been convicted of operating a methamphetamine manufacturing and trafficking organization. A 34-year-old man, 58-year-old man and 27-year-old man were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to 24 years to be followed by five years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. The sentences were handed down on Dec. 16 in Fort Smith. The men all entered guilty pleas in August. They could have been sent to prison for life if they had been found guilty by a jury.

The men were taken into custody on April 5 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at a residence in Alpena. Agents claim to have discovered about 140 pounds of methamphetamine and large quantities of chemicals including acetone in the residence. Agents believe the chemicals were used to reconstitute compressed methamphetamine that was transported to the home concealed inside vehicle wheels. The men allegedly distributed the reconstituted methamphetamine in Arkansas and Iowa.

Are these types of evidence really reliable?

Courts rely on solid evidence to convict a person of a crime. Yet sometimes, it’s difficult to extract proof of the crime from the evidence at hand. Other times, evidence that seems to point in one direction is altogether misleading. This can unfortunately lead to wrongful convictions.

While some pieces of evidence may be dependable enough to convict you, certain evidence can sometimes be dubious and not as reliable as you may think.

Former inmate charged with homicide

An Arkansas man who spent 32 years in prison for a murder he committed when he was 22 years of age has been charged in connection with a shooting death in Crawford County. The 59-year-old Mulberry resident was taken into custody on Nov. 8 when deputies from the Crawford County Sheriff's Office who were conducting a missing person investigation received a tip. The tip led deputies to the gun the man allegedly used to commit the murder. He is being held at the Crawford County Jail and his bond has been set at $2.1 million.

The man was originally charged with making terroristic threats according to court papers. A first-degree murder charge was added on Nov. 22 after deputies learned that human remains discovered on Hollis Lake Road had been identified by a crime laboratory as those of the missing person. The man is said to given investigators details of the crime and the location of the victim's body. The man has also been charged with possessing a firearm while a convicted felon and possessing drug paraphernalia.

DOJ accuses professor of laundering money stolen from Venezuela

The financial schemes plotted by foreign actors might feel far away from Arkansas, but international money laundering operations can involve people in the United States. The recent charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against a university professor illustrate this point. Federal investigators claim that the 73-year-old laundered money derived from bribes and other corrupt practices that stole money from Venezuelans.

According to a press release from federal prosecutors, the professor had access to multiple bank accounts that received funds from overseas accounts in the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Prosecutors assert that he received about $200,000 every month. After depositing the money, he routinely transferred 90% of it to his personal accounts. Federal investigators estimate that he handled roughly $2.5 million from November 2017 to October 2018.

Numerous arrests and indictments in Arkansas drug rings

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, law enforcement authorities arrested 15 people on Oct. 23 after 49 indictments were handed down for allegations of participation in major drug rings in the state. Three large drug rings were targeted by undercover officers, including the Monterrio Fuller, Desmond Kelley, and Clifton Williams drug trafficking organizations.

The sting operation was started in June 2018 by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration from their field offices in Little Rock. The law enforcement officers worked undercover within the drug trafficking organizations to dismantle the major traffickers of fentanyl in the state.

U.S. House passes federal bill banning animal cruelty

On Oct. 22, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would make it a federal crime to commit certain acts of animal cruelty in Arkansas and around the country. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.

The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 criminalized making and distributing animal crush videos. The new Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT, expands on that law by making it illegal for any individual to knowingly participate in any abusive behavior toward animals, including crushing, drowning, burning, impaling or suffocating, if the animals or abuse in any way involve interstate or foreign commerce. If passed, the law would not conflict with local animal cruelty laws.

Sex offender registry and notification levels

Arkansas, like most other states, has a program in place that requires defendants convicted of some sexual offenses to register with law enforcement authorities as a sexual offender. There are many facets to this program and the nature of a person's registration and what is involved may vary based, at least in part, on the nature of the offense for which they were convicted. In some cases, even a person who is acquitted of a sex crime offense may still be required to register as a sex offender. 

One of the elements of the sex offender registry program is the ability of people in the general public to look up individual registrants. The Arkansas Crime Information Center indicates that a search may be conducted by a person's name, county, city, zip code or even a specific street address. It is not known how many searches take place, but this remains a common part of most registry programs.

What should you know about drug trafficking?

You may know that drug trafficking is illegal in Arkansas. However, you may not realize that this crime may be subject to both state and federal laws and that the penalty may be different depending on the kind of substance you sell.

FindLaw says that depending on the situation, you may face either state and federal charges for drug trafficking. If you sell drugs within Arkansas, you usually only face state charges. If you sell drugs across state lines, however, then you are generally subject to federal law. One key difference between state and federal charges is that under state law, you may face charges for selling smaller amounts of a substance. Additionally, a prison sentence may be higher under federal law.

How is stalking handled as a crime in Arkansas?

It can be difficult for some people to let go of a relationship. For others, their attraction to a person may lead to fantasizing that a relationship exists when it does not, which may in turn lead to behavior that can qualify as stalking. It is important for you and other Arkansas residents to understand stalking laws in the state before you are accused of a crime.

Which behaviors constitute stalking, you may wonder? According to FindLaw, stalking may be comprised of numerous behaviors that can put the target in fear for his or her safety or life. The behaviors may also annoy, intimidate or make the other person feel uncomfortable, especially if the person has requested more than once that the behavior stop. Some examples of stalking may include the following:

  • Being unable to move on after a relationship has ended and repeatedly calling or following the other person
  • Learning where the person lives and following him or her home from work
  • Manipulating or destroying property belonging to the other person
  • Taking photographs of the other person without permission
  • Following the other person on social media and sending unwanted texts and private messages
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