In what is being called the final sweep of operation Ice Store, Little Rock's District Office of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made nine arrests for ice methamphetamine in Batesville, Sept. 23.
In a report obtained from the U.S. Attorney's office, Jane Duke, United States Attorney, along with William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in charge the United States Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Arkansas, the investigation was created by the Sixteenth Judicial Drug Task Force in 2005 to target those who traffic methamphetamine in the Batesville area.
The investigation was initiated by DEA as a result of information obtained from several other investigations. Duke said DEA agents became aware of the escalating large scale methamphetamine trafficking problem in Batesville from multiple sources. The ring was believed to be distributing "ice" methamphetamine from Mexico. Duke explained that ice meth has a purity level of greater than 80 percent.
During the four year investigation, it was discovered that the group was not only selling the ice locally, but they were also trafficking it to cities such as Memphis, Kansas City, Des Moines and Indianapolis. The arrests made Sept. 23 were a result of federal complaints and include Jose Fernando Tenoriao, 32, Luis Andres Tenoriao, 31, Noe Gayton, Israel Ceranda Venia a.k.a. Juan Pena, 24, Sandra Milligan, 52, Katie Brokaw, 20, and Valdimar Fabila Gonzales a.k.a. Lorenzo Garcia all of Batesville; David Cook, 52, of Clinton; and John Huff. The report said several others remain at large in the investigation.
Duke said these apprehensions coupled with all the other arrests made to date in Operation Ice Store have resulted in the confiscation of more than 100 pounds of "ice," 84 arrests, 48 of who have already been convicted with average sentences of 10 years or greater. The operation has also yielded assets of over $400,000 which have been seized. She said it is important to note that numerous others have been arrested in spin-off cases from the large scale group and the confiscations and arrests of these individuals are not included in these numbers.
After commending the numerous offices who participated in the investigation, Duke said, "Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and devastating drug. There is no way people are able to remain 'social' or 'recreational' meth users. It eventually overtakes every aspect of a person's life. We have seen case after case where people think they can use meth occasionally and still maintain a family, a career, a home and their health. But, the addictive nature of the drug is such that you simply cannot. Eventually, the acquisition and use of methamphetamine completely consumes the user. Left in the wake is broken families, ruined careers, repossessed homes and serious health problems."