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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Off the streets

Thursday, April 12, 2007

LOOT: Sharp County officers confiscated these items and more from a storage unit in Ash Flat April 13. Photo/submitted.
After finding a man in possession of 139 pounds of marijuana with a street value of more than $266,800, authorities have James Walton behind bars.

"It's huge," Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence said. "When you can confiscate 130 pounds of marijuana it's big."

Sharp County authorities arrested Walton, 60, and Tessa Carter, 25, at Sunset Suites motel near Hardy April 6 on warrants issued from?Izard County after an April 3 search of a home and two vehicles in Horseshoe Bend uncovered 83 pounds of marijuana.

In Izard County, Walton is charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, a class C felony; simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, a class Y felony; felon in possession of a firearm, a class D felony. He is being held in the Izard County Jail in lieu of a $150,000 bond.

Carter is charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver. She is also in jail. Her bond is set at $100,000.

Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose was contacted early April 6 by Izard County authorities who said they had word that Walton was staying in a local motel, Rose said. Rose and Arkansas State Police Trooper Jeremy Page began checking local motels and learned Walton, Carter, a small child and a dog were at the Sunset Suites, Rose said.

Rose, Page and three other officers set up surveillance of the motel and the vehicle Walton was thought to be driving, Rose said.

When the two put the child in the pickup truck and then returned inside the motel room, officers surrounded the truck to prevent escape and took Walton and Carter into custody as they came out of the motel room, Rose said.

Department of Human Services has custody of the child, and the dog has been given to a family member, Rose said.

Inside the truck officers found a hand gun, a box of shells, $5,040 in cash, a set of keys and a cigarette case containing unidentified pills, Rose said.

Officers also searched a room at Motor Center Motel near Hardy, where Carter had been staying, Rose said. No contraband was found.

Walton was arrested by Ripley County, Missouri, authorities April 3 after a routine traffic stop.

At that time, Walton was found to be in possession of two plastic bags containing several bricks of marijuana, weighing approximately 8 pounds, said Officer Scott Johnston with the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force.

"This is a large amount that exceeds any reasonable amount that would be considered personal use amount of marijuana," Johnston said.

Carter, who was a passenger in the car, allegedly told authorities Walton brought approximately 80 pounds of marijuana from Texas to his home in Arkansas earlier that day. Walton then packaged some of the marijuana to bring to a contact in Doniphan, Mo., Johnston said.

Walton was arrested at that time and was later released after posting bond. Carter was not charged in Missouri.

Missouri authorities notified the Izard County Sheriff's Office and Horseshoe Bend Police Department of the information Carter had provided.

A search was conducted at the home Walton had been renting at 1315 North Ridge. Officers found 2 pounds of marijuana in the home and 81 pounds in a Mercury Grand Marquis parked outside, said Lawrence. Officers also found $25,080 cash in the car along with two coolers full of collector coins, he said.

Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said his office and the Ash Flat Police Department were notified of the Izard County search and learned that more drugs might be in Sharp County.

"We learned that he had a storage building here in Ash Flat under a fictitious name, Winston Hitchcock," Weaver said. "They thought it might have five to 20 pounds of marijuana in it."

Once inside the A&B Mini Storage unit, officers found a garbage bag with packaged marijuana, a cooler with marijuana and two firearms -- a Rossi .38-caliber pistol and a loaded Colt .357-caliber pistol, Weaver said. The marijuana weighed approximately 48 pounds, he said. The street value for the 48 pounds is estimated at more than $92,000, he said.

"We ended up with more than what they thought was over this way," Weaver said.

Sharp County has issued a hold on Walton and Carter.

In Sharp County, Walton faces charges of possession with the intent to deliver, a class C felony; possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use, a class C felony; simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, a class Y felony; and felon in possession of a firearm, a class D felony.

Carter is charged with possession with the intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use and simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms.

Lawrence said his department's investigation is continuing.

"We're still working on it all here," Lawrence said. "I think we're going to find out a bunch more stuff. We think what he's doing is transporting it out of Texas and we know he's taking it at least to Missouri. We think more than likely he's furnishing other dealers."

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