23 Charged in Fort Smith Drug Trafficking Operation

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Twenty-three people are facing charges in connection with the Gamboa drug trafficking organization active in the Fort Smith area, US Attorney Conner Eldridge announced Tuesday (June 11).

Charges range from conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine to unlawful reentry by an illegal alien. The crimes allegedly took place from Nov. 2012 to May 2013, according to Eldridge.

The drug activity occurred over four states, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and California. Authorities say much of the drugs were brought into he area from Mexico.

In August of 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration Duty Task Force Group began an investigation of the Gerardo Gamboa, aka “Tio,” Drug-Trafficking Organization.

Gamboa was the head of the organization and was bringing in and selling pound quantities of methamphetamine in the River Valley, Eldridge said. Those trying to smuggle drugs into the area would go as far as hiding them in car batteries.

Local officers made several controlled purchases of meth from several members of the organization and executed search warrants at several locations around the area.

Gamboa is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine;
two counts of Distribution of More than 50 grams of actual methamphetamine, two counts of Distribution of more than 50 grams of a mixture or substance that contained methamphetamine.

Fort Smith Police chief Kevin Lindsey says the bust not only takes drugs off the streets but also puts offenders behind bars.

“You’re talking about monumental amounts that have the potential to be a devastating impact on the community here if that were to be getting out,” Chief Lindsey said.

The investigation into the Gamboa drug-trafficking organization grew out of a larger investigation known as “Operation Shaw-Crank Redemption,” Eldridge said.

The two-year investigation resulted in 49 arrests and prosecutions, as well as the seizure of 22 pounds of methamphetamine, 10 firearms, $5,000 in currency, and four cars and two motorcycles valued at $25,000.

The case was investigated by several federal, state and local agencies, including  the Fort Smith Police Department, Van Buren Police Department, the 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force, Leflore County Drug Task Force, Leflore County Prosecutor’s Office, Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office, and Sebastian County Prosecutor’s Office.

The following people are facing charges:
Gerardo Gamboa, 36, Fort Smith
Miguel Gonzales, 21, Fort Smith
Miguel Soto, 21, Fort Smith
Ana Esparza, 30, Fort Smith
Maria Terresa Hernandez, 41, Fort Smith
Jessica Sparks, 28, Keota, Okla.
Huy Tran, 34, Fort Smith
Abraham Jaimes, 28, Fort Smith
Curtis Atkins, 48, Spiro, Okla.
Michael Rouell, 37, Muskogee, Okla.
Sabrina Shepard, 24, Fort Smith
Wesley Sylva, 47, Fort Smith
Salvador Guerrero-Lopez, 30, Los Angeles, Calif.
Alejandro Guerrero-Lopez, 36, Los Angeles, Calif.
Gary Alber, 47, Fort Smith
Cassie Buckner, 37, Fort Smith
Vincente Eluid Flores, 25
Jacqueline Johnson, 49, Fort Smith
Leslie Margaret Kaelin, 33, Fort Smith
Phillip Knox, 46, Fort Smith
Jaime Ramos, 26, Alma
Brian Steele, 33, Spiro, Okla.
Alisa Woodall, 44