After School Pick-Up Leads to Arrests

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A Fort Smith mother was arrested on drug charges Thursday evening (March 14) after a mix-up in the student pick-up line at Lavaca Public Schools prompted a lockdown.

Vanessa Barrett, 26, was arrested for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, according to the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office.

Barrett arrived at the elementary school just after 3 p.m. with a man to pick up her two kids, deputies say.

School officials noticed Barrett’s companion, 29-year-old Esteban Arreola, was armed with a gun.

The incident was quickly reported to law enforcement and all of the children were moved back into the building. The elementary, middle and high school campuses were put on a brief lockdown until the couple left and the area could be secured.

Deputies began searching for the couple driving a white Ford Crown Victoria, according to a report from the sheriff’s office.

Weapons, drugs,  paraphernalia found in Arreola's car

Weapons, drugs, paraphernalia found in Arreola’s car

Central City Police later located them on Highway 255 at Pierce Newman Street.  Only Arreola was in the vehicle.  Several weapons including a .22 caliber rifle; a .45 caliber handgun and two knives were found in the vehicle, along with seven ounces of methamphetamine.

The drugs had a street value of almost $20,000, according to deputies.

Arreola was taken into custody and charged with Possession of a Firearm on School Grounds, two counts of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Deliver, and Simultaneous Possession of Drugs and Firearms.

He was also charged with Possession of Drug Paraphenailia, Possesion of Marijuana, and Drinking on a Highway, according to the sheriff’s office.

Officers later located Barrett and placed her under arrest on a drug charge. Both Barrett and Arreola were booked into the Sebastian County Detention Center.

Superintendent Steve Rose said the school district practices for these types of situations.

“School personnel quickly and efficiently followed district protocol,” Rose said. “We hope that they never occur, however in this instance staff and students executed the procedures effectively.”

Lavaca Police, Fort Smith Police, 12th/21st Drug Task Force and the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office jointly participated in the investigation.

“This case is a great example of teamwork by law enforcement and educators for the common goal of safe campuses,” said Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck.