Northwest Arkansas is considered a hub for drug traffickers.
An undercover officer with the Crime Suppression Unit in Springdale could not go on camera to protect his identity but, he explained to Lieutenant Kevin Lewis why this area is considered a hot spot for drugs.
“People are able to use interstate 40, Interstate 540, Highway 412 as a route to get to larger cities such as Kansas City, Saint Louis, Tulsa and it`s easily accessed up through Texas,” explains Lewis.
In operation La Pantera Negra, also known as Black Panther, the people delivering drugs knew someone in Springdale.
Sixteen people in the Springdale area charged with 19 counts of money laundering, meth distribution and conspiracy to distribute. Two accused in the meth ring are still on the loose. Overall more than 30 arrests over a two year period. Investigators seized 118 pounds of meth, worth several million dollars during the investigation.
“Springdale in this specific investigation, Springdale just happened to be the location where someone knew someone and that ended up collecting here.”
During that operation, agents tailed three people from Northwest Arkansas to a meth stash house in Dallas.
“Dallas is a major hub for us. I would say a lot of the drugs that come into Northwest Arkansas is going to be coming from Dallas.”
The undercover officer says 'Ice' which is a smokeable form of meth is mostly made in Mexico.
“They use smaller labs locally just because of the restrictions put on by the laws that are government has for the ingredients to make the meth,” says Lt. Lewis. “Mexico does not have those same restrictions, so they have what would be considered super labs and the super labs would make a large quantity and they can vary their purity in the super lab then with smaller labs.”
Investigators say cocaine used to be the hot drug but meth has increasingly become the most popular.
“It`s extremely addictive the first time user you can be addicted to it and another thing is that it’s cheaper to buy and to make than cocaine.”
And people we spoke to say meth isn`t hard to find.
“Meth especially has become, it`s just everywhere and it’s just so easy to find.”
“It`s just being exposed here in Springdale, but it`s just as prevalent and as strong in other areas.”