Organized Criminal Activity Task Force formed to combat crime

Police investigate a shooting in Jonseboro. Photo taken Nov. 2016.

JONESBORO, Ark. – The Second Judicial District Organized Criminal Activity Task Force (OCATF) was announced created Friday, Jan. 11. The announcement came from District Prosecutor Scott Ellington, JPD Chief Rick Elliott, and numerous other agencies.

The mission of the new task force is to identify and target for prosecution criminal enterprise groups whose activities include drug trafficking, money laundering, alien smuggling, arms trafficking and possession, crimes of violence such as murder and aggravated assault, robbery, and violent street gangs.

The OCATF will intensely focus on the apprehension of dangerous fugitives where there is or may be a local investigative interest, a press release from Ellington’s office said. Its mandate will consist of intelligence gathering, maintenance, and sharing among the agencies mentioned below.

“The OCATF will enhance the effectiveness of federal/state/local law enforcement resources through a well-coordinated initiative seeking the most effective investigative/prosecutorial avenues by which to convict and incarcerate dangerous offenders.” – Press Release

The OCATF is comprised of law enforcement officials from:

  • Second Judicial District Prosecutor’s Office
  • Jonesboro Police Department
  • Blytheville Police Department
  • Osceola Police Department
  • Craighead County Sheriff’s Department
  • Craighead County Juvenile Department
  • Mississippi County Juvenile Department
  • Poinsett County Sheriff’s Department
  • Paragould Police Department
  • Arkansas Department of Community Corrections

Special assistance to the task force will be provided by:

  • West Memphis Police Department
  • Trumann Police Department
  • Arkansas State University Police Department
  • Arkansas State Police
  • United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas
  • Federal Bureau of INvestigation
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
  • Department of Homeland Security

The formation of the group came after Prosecutor Ellington said his office discovered a pattern among violent crimes in Craighead County. The discovery came after his office reviewed 24 jury trials and violent crime prosecutions.

“Many of Jonesboro’s most dangerous, violent offenders came from our surrounding counties within Northeast Arkansas,” Ellington said. “Many of those individuals associate themselves with others to carry on criminal activities.”

The idea for the task force seemed to be born out of discussions in May, 2018. Following the shootings in Downtown Jonesboro and in coordination with Chief Rick Elliott of the Jonesboro Police Department, Ellington said he began to develop a consensus for the creation of the task force.

“We reached out to law enforcement agencies all over Northeast Arkansas with a goal,” Ellington said. “Our goal is to use this Task Force to collect vital information from multiple federal, state, and local sources. We will use this information to enhance our ability to identify, track, investigate, and prosecute individuals or groups who associate for criminal purposes.”

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