Five Indicted After Feds Bust Sprawling Drug Ring In River Valley

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Federal prosecutors have indicted five people linked to a drug trafficking organization that investigators say is responsible for distributing multiple pounds of methamphetamine across the River Valley and eastern Oklahoma.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency alleges that Crawford County resident Cory Phillips has been trafficking meth into the region for the last five years, according to a criminal complaint unsealed last week in U.S. District Court.

Agents began investigating Phillips in June 2018 and used a confidential source to gather intelligence and purchase meth from Phillips' drug ring via controlled buys.

Those indicted in the scheme include:

  • Cory Jeremiah Phillips of Uniontown
  • Russell Alvin Hofer of Van Buren
  • Ryan Thomas Miller of Pocola, Okla.
  • Christopher Franklin Murphy of Van Buren
  • Quan David Phung of Van Buren

All five face drug charges ranging from conspiracy and trafficking to aiding and abetting. The quintet was being held at the Sebastian County Detention Center without bond.

Hofer, who was described as Phillips' "main lieutenant," was arrested in January after Oklahoma narcotics agents found more than 25 pounds of meth inside his SUV during a traffic stop.

He told investigators he had been paid to transfer drugs into Arkansas.

Hofer's arrest backed up what agents learned from their sources, who alleged that Phillips would "obtain approximately 30 pounds of meth at a time," according to court documents.

Agents also learned that Phillips would never deliver the meth personally, but instead used "close associates" to distribute up to one pound of meth per day in Crawford and Sebastian counties, as well as eastern Oklahoma.

Hofer pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy to distribute meth. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine. A sentencing hearing hasn't been set.

Phillips, Phung, Murphy and Miller have pleaded not guilty. Their trial is set for July 15 in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith.

The U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Arkansas declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

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