Police have arrested 11 suspects in an extensive Northwest Arkansas drug trafficking ring that has been the subject of a 14-month-long investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office released Friday.
Operation West End Gambler began in August 2012 and has resulted in more than 20 pounds of methamphetamine and $60,000 being seized by authorities during the investigation. The suspects face charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge’s office stated in a release.
The operation has involved the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, the Springdale Police Department and other agencies.
The DEA, deputies and police officers executed four search warrants Monday on three homes and a Siloam Springs storage unit. Authorities seized six pounds of methamphetamine, two firearms and $18,845 during the searches, also arresting seven suspects that day, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Investigators in the case arrested Arturo Vaca-Raya, of Springdale, in December 2012. It was the first arrest in Operation West End Gambler. Officers during the arrest seized more than 15 pounds of methamphetamine and an undisclosed large sum of money, according to Eldridge's office.
Vaca-Raya was sentenced in September to 40 years in prison on methamphetamine distribution charges. After Vaca-Raya's arrest, operation members arrested Ricardo Clemente Ruiz, an alleged large-scale distributor of methamphetamine in Siloam Springs and Springdale.
Members of the DEA's Fayetteville Task Force, the Fayetteville Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Rogers Police Department.
The following suspects were arrested and face drug charges in the case:
- Ricardo Ruiz, 42
- Martha Pulido, 19
- Davna Hoepfner, 36
- Suzanne Hathorn, 53
- Alex Fernandez, 40
- Leonel Padilla, 26
- Michael Stanfill, 43
- Leeroy Creekmore, 53
- Angel Asucedo, 19
- Erica Murguia, 22
- Gabriel Romero, 20