Three Federal investigations into Arkansas fentanyl operations revealed

LITTLE ROCK— Multiple arrests in fentanyl-related operations in central Arkansas this month dismantled three drug-trafficking organizations, including one which directly led to the death of two individuals. This morning authorities arrested 15 people in the third major law enforcement operation in October designed to disrupt the flow of the deadly drug fentanyl. In total, 49 defendants were charged as a result of indictments filed this month.  

          Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Diane Upchurch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Little Rock Field Office, and Justin C. King, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Little Rock Field Office, announced the results of these three separate fentanyl investigations. All three investigations, which are described below, led to indictments filed on October 2, 2019. Throughout the month of October, authorities have conducted arrest operations that culminated with this morning’s arrests.

Clifton Williams Drug Trafficking Organization

          Today’s arrests are the result of an investigation into a fentanyl drug trafficking organization that has already been linked to two overdose deaths. In June 2018, FBI began investigating the drug trafficking activities of Clifton Williams and his associates. After conducting two controlled purchases of fentanyl from Williams, agents applied for and received a wiretap for his phone. Agents intercepted hundreds of calls and text messages between Williams and other distributors of fentanyl and heroin in the central Arkansas area.

          Williams and his co-conspirators operated largely out of West Little Rock, where they conducted drug transactions at prominent retail locations. On August 30, 2018, a woman overdosed on fentanyl supplied by Williams and was found dead at a motel in West Little Rock. On October 18, 2018, an individual died of “fentanyl intoxication” after taking fentanyl Williams had supplied. That same day, Williams was arrested and found to be in possession of over $25,000 cash, a stolen firearm, two ounces of fentanyl, and other contraband.

          Williams and twenty-two others are charged in the indictment. In addition to the 15 arrested this morning, two were already in custody. The investigation was conducted by FBI with assistance from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas Community Corrections, Arkansas National Guard Counterdrug, Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police Department, and North Little Rock Police Department.

Desmond Kelley Drug Trafficking Organization

          Twelve defendants were arrested after the unsealing of a federal indictment, which charges 17 defendants with 37 counts that include federal drug and firearm offenses.  In addition to the twelve defendants who were arrested, four were already in state custody. One defendant, Jamie Goff, is a fugitive and remains at large.

          This drug-trafficking organization is alleged to be led by Desmond Kelley, 26, of Little Rock, who was already facing federal heroin charges after being indicted in case number 4:17-cr-00111-JM on May 5, 2017. Kelley was out on federal pretrial release when the alleged conduct in this case took place.

          During the course of the investigation in 2018 and 2019, the DEA utilized court-authorized wiretaps to intercept hundreds of drug-trafficking calls from Darrell Walls, alleged to be one of Kelley’s main distributors. Law enforcement officers conducted 23 controlled purchases or seizures of drugs, resulting in seizures of more than 500 grams of fentanyl, as well as heroin and methamphetamine, three firearms, and more than $18,000 in suspected drug proceeds. A single dose of the extremely potent and deadly drug fentanyl is as little as 1/16 of a gram, meaning law enforcement seized more than 8,000 individual doses from the street. Based on the investigation, agents believe this organization was responsible for the distribution of multiple kilograms of fentanyl.

          The investigation was conducted by the DEA, in conjunction with the North Little Rock Police Department, and with assistance from the Sherwood Police Department, Benton Police Department, and United States Postal Inspection Service. The agencies assisting on today’s arrest operations include: the Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, and Arkansas Department of Community Corrections.

Monterrio Fuller Drug Trafficking Organization

          Nine defendants are charged with 21 counts that include federal drug and firearm offenses.  Two defendants, Terrell Fordson and Teven Nolen-Loving, are fugitives and remain at large.

          In early 2018, the investigation began when federal authorities learned that Monterrio Fuller and his associates were distributing fentanyl and heroin in the central Arkansas area. The FBI used court-authorized wiretaps to further the investigation. Agents conducted more than ten controlled buys of heroin and fentanyl from members of the organization and executed search warrants at multiple locations, including residences used by Fuller.

          Agents seized approximately 1100 grams of fentanyl, or a heroin-fentanyl mix; approximately 450 grams of marijuana, and approximately 1000 doses of MDMA. In addition to the drugs, law enforcement seized almost $7000 in cash and over $34,000 in assets including jewelry and cars, and nine firearms, three of which were AR-15s.

          The investigation was conducted by the FBI, in conjunction with the Arkansas State Police, North Little Rock Police Department, Little Rock Police Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas National Guard Counterdrug, and Arkansas Department of Community Corrections.

          “Fentanyl is an incredibly dangerous drug, and our focus is to remove it from our streets and communities,” stated U.S. Attorney Hiland. “Three takedowns this month each dismantled a separate fentanyl operation, which shows the continued pressure we will apply to these drug trafficking organizations. I am proud of the work we have done with our law enforcement partners to combat this fatal drug.”

          “A very small amount of fentanyl is a lethal dose, whether it is ingested or absorbed through the skin,” DEA ASAC Justin King said. “In this DEA investigation, more than 8,000 individual doses of fentanyl were seized. It is important that the public is aware of the danger of this powerful and potentially lethal drug. DEA and local law enforcement has successfully collaborated in order to put these drug dealers in jail for many years as a result of their desire to supply the citizens in this community with dangerous drugs. We will continue to relentlessly pursue drug traffickers plaguing our communities in order to enhance the quality of life for the citizens in this region.”

          “The Little Rock FBI’s Get-Rock Task Force is dedicated to eradicating the sale of illegal narcotics in our State,” stated Assistant Special Agent in Charge Scott Reinhardt.  “With the continued help of our partners with Arkansas Community Correction, Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police Department, North Little Rock Police Department, Arkansas National Guard, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we will continue our battle to eradicate the illegal sale of narcotics in our state.”

          An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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