BENTONVILLE (KFSM) — Police have arrested a local couple accused of trafficking several pounds of methamphetamine into Arkansas from Oklahoma on a weekly basis.
Sonia Louise Werline, 23, of Fairland, Okla., and Matthew Dakota Barnes, 28, of Bella Vista, were arrested in connection with drug trafficking -- a Class Y felony.
The 4th Judicial Drug Task Force had been investigating the couple and alerted Bentonville police that some of the shipments may have passed through a local hotel, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Investigators arrested the couple Wednesday (March 27) at a hotel on Suburban Lane, where the task force recovered 2.2 pounds of meth.
The couple told police they'd fallen on hard times and had been living out of a car. Barnes said he had family in jail in Oklahoma. They set him up with money as long as he and Werline agreed to deliver meth from Oklahoma City into Northwest Arkansas, according to the affidavit.
The couple would rent hotel rooms around Northwest Arkansas every week. When the phone rang, they'd go pick up a thick, sealed envelope and exchange it a random location in Oklahoma City for meth.
Barnes estimated they'd made about eight or 10 trips over the last six weeks, according to the affidavit.
Barnes said he and Werline were paid for the trips, but the meth was also part of the payments, with Barnes noting that he "likes to get high."
Barnes and Werline were being held Friday (March 29) at the Benton County Jail on $50,000 bonds. The pair have hearings set for May 6 in Benton County Circuit Court.
Class Y felonies are the most severe crimes in Arkansas not punishable by death. A person convicted of a Class Y felony could face life in prison, according to Arkansas Code Annotated 5-4-401.
The 4th Judicial Task Force consists of investigators from police agencies in Fayetteville, Springdale, Prairie Grove, Lincoln, Farmington, West Fork, Greenland, Johnson, Tontitown, Elkins, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Chaired by Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor, the task force provides initial and follow-up investigation work concerning drug-related crimes.