An Oxford woman who is believed to be a key player in the largest methamphetamine operation in northern Arkansas is facing multiple federal indictments, after law enforcement officials dropped state charges against her Dec. 9.
Rhonda Due, 39, is expected to be charged with operating a drug operation across state lines, conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine, and other drug related charges within the next several weeks.
Due was charged with multiple drug offenses after a Sept. 24 traffic stop in Mitchell.
Sixteenth Judicial District Drug Task Force Chief Scott Russell said officials are dropping their case against Due so a federal grand jury can proceed with charges.
Russell said authorities would prefer to try Due in federal court.
"A person who is sentenced to 10 years in prison in state court can get out after 2 1/2 years. If convicted in federal court the same individual will stay in prison for nine years and 10 months (even) with good behavior," Russell said.
In addition, Due's case includes drug charges from Missouri which could be combined with her Arkansas charges to make one federal case.
"She'll get her day in federal court," Russell said.
Due was sentenced to six years in prison Dec. 9 for prior offenses which include two counts of child endangerment, fleeing and reckless driving. She will be incarcerated in a state prison until the end of her federal trial, Russell said.
Due, along with her boyfriend, Newton "Bubba" Willingham, was the head of a drug ring that operated in Fulton and Izard counties and in southern Missouri.
Russell said between 10 and 14 persons will face federal indictments in this case.
"Depending upon how cooperative each of these people are will determine if they face federal charges," Russell said.
A Viola man who is facing multiple drug and firearms charges stemming from Drug Task Force raids earlier this year now faces additional charges after a Dec. 7 raid at his home.
Richard Neal Holstine, 31, has been charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, a class Y felony; simultaneous possession of drugs and guns, a class Y felony; possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, a class B felony; possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use, a class C felony; and possession of psuedoephedrine, a class D felony.
Holstine's girlfriend, 39-year-old Kathy Marie Arnold, has been charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, a class Y felony; and possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use, a class C felony.
According to an affidavit released by the 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force, officers found quantities of methamphetamine, components used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, a loaded .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol within close proximity to the methamphetamine, and other drug paraphernalia in Holstine's house.
Investigators said a young child was living in the house at the time of the bust.
Fulton County Circuit Court Judge Tim Weaver did not give Holstine a bond in connection with the new charges.
Holstine was charged with multiple drug offenses, including possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture and simultaneous possession of drugs and guns after a raid at home in May.
In August Holstine was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture after a traffic stop near Hardy.
Russell said agents within the Drug Task Force have seized a record 104 methamphetamine labs or operations in the 16th Judicial District this year. The previous record was 101 seizures in 2001.
In Fulton County Circuit Court, Eric W. Broyles, 18, of Salem was sentenced to 18 months in the Arkansas Department of Correction for his role in two Salem area church burglaries.
Broyles, along with 19-year-old Christopher Christie and 18-year-old Joseph M. Barr, broke into and stole money from Immanuel Baptist Church and First Assembly of God Church earlier this year.
Jason J. Morin, 31, of Memphis, who was charged with aggravated assault in June, pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of battery in the 3rd degree, a class A misdemeanor.
Weaver sentenced Morin to 1 year in jail, suspended, if he pays his $4,866.45 in restitution by Jan. 6.
Morin's conviction stems from an incident in which he beat a Mississippi man with a boat paddle and a rock after an argument near the Spring River over the Memorial Day weekend.
A Salem man alleged to have sexually assaulted an 11-year-old female in March pleaded guilty Dec. 9 to one count of sexual assault in the second degree.
William Charles Langley Jr., 32, was sentenced to three years in prison by Judge Weaver.