Guns and Drugs in Arkansas

In what may be a different path toward getting drug dealers off the streets, it appears that the latest big sweep was generated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). The sweep, resulting from a two-year investigation under the High Intensity Trafficking Supression task force, had more than 150 law enforcement officers involved in the arrests in both Arkansas and Missouri.

According to an Associated Press report, the arrests came in response to “firearms violence and drug trafficking.” This makes sense. Using the link between firearms and drug dealing means that searches for illegal weapons could very well turn up drugs and gives BATF a roll in uncovering and arresting those we’d most like to get off the streets.

In Blytheville, one of the areas focused on, 19 were arrested. The police seized about 2 kilograms of methamphetamine (four pounds), multiple ounces of crack cocaine, more than 26 pounds of marijuana and 24 guns, including six stolen guns.

"This investigation is a prime example of what happens when agencies work together to make their communities safer," said Vidoli, the ATF’s agent in charge of the operation. "ATF's commitment to reducing violent crime begins with our relationships with our law enforcement partners."

Other methods have been used to get at drug dealers, including using the IRS and investigating money laundering. Illegal operations of any size have several organizational weaknesses that law enforcement can exploit. They need to move cash and they need to provide security – often using illegal firearms to do so. Anyone who is a previous felon in the operation is already forbidden to have a gun, and this, along with stolen firearms, means law enforcement can get a search warrant based solely on gun crimes. Any drugs found during such a search can then be used to make additional charges. Further, the gun charges bump up penalties for felonies committed while in possession of a firearm. That makes it harder for dealers to bargain their way out of prison time.


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