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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trumann resident pleads guilty

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jane W. Duke, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and William J. Bryant, assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock District Office for the Drug Enforcement Administration announced John Pascal Soward, 36, of Trumann entered a guilty plea to drug trafficking and firearms charges before United States District Judge James M. Moody. During the change of plea proceeding Soward acknowledged his leadership role in an organization that was responsible for transporting, manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine in northeastern Arkansas.

His guilty plea also secured the criminal forfeiture of 77 firearms utilized in connection with his drug trafficking activities, including one submachine gun and two silencers, as well as property he acquired with drug proceeds, including a motorcycle and real estate located in Jonesboro.

Soward and 17 co-defendants were charged last year with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. According to the indictment this conspiracy operated from April 1997 until June 2006 and was responsible for the manufacture and distribution of more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

Soward was also charged with being a felon in possession of multiple firearms and being in possession of an unregistered machine gun. To date, 14 of the named defendants have entered guilty pleas. All defendants who have pled, including Soward, will be sentenced later this year by Judge Moody. The remaining four defendants are scheduled for trial, Oct. 15.

"This particular group of individuals plagued the northeastern part of our state for many years," said Duke. "In addition to its manufacturing activities and related crimes, Soward's organization was also responsible for the receipt of numerous pounds of methamphetamine from California and the subsequent distribution of that imported meth in this district.

Duke went on to explain, "both the local production of methamphetamine and its importation from source locations like California and Mexico pose serious, but different concerns. On the one hand, local meth labs are dangerous and costly to remediate. The presence of local manufacturing activities also triggers related crimes like the left of supplies and ingredients. Imported meth on the other hand is typically a much more potent form of meth that is actually characterized as, "ice." By dismantling this group, law enforcement has dealt a double blow to the illegal methamphetamine trade in our state."

Soward's ultimate sentence will be determined by Judge Moody after reviewing the United States Sentencing Guidelines. However, Soward faces an enhanced mandatory minimum of twenty years imprisonment based on his previous state conviction for a felony drug offense.

The broad scope of this investigation is reflected in the fact that it was designated as an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case. OCDETF is a Department of Justice program established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation's drug supply.

The numerous convictions in this case are the result of the joint investigative effort of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Arkansas State Police, the Arkansas Highway Police, the Jonesboro Police Department, the Craighead County Sheriff's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service -- Criminal Investigation Division and Treasury Division, the Little Rock Police Department, the Clay County Sheriff's Office, the Trumann Police Department, the Second Judicial District Drug Task Force and the Second Judicial Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Senior Litigation Counsel Kevin Alexander is handling the prosecution of this case with the assistance of Asset Forfeiture Coordinator, Karen Whatley.

Also arrested in the case were:

*William Earl Watson, 51 of Trumann, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

*Willard Leo Spray, 47 of Trumann, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

*Kelly Eugene Vest, 35, of Harrisburg, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

*Christopher Alexander Ishmael, 35 of Jonesboro, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

*Douglas Eugene Jones, 55, of Manila, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

*Danny Ray Wiseman, 37, of Jonesboro, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

*Parrish C. Morris, 40, of Lafe, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

*Mitchell Ray Qualls, 45, of Lake City, charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

*Keith Guffey, 46, Bono, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

*Joseph Bauer Jackson, 26 of Bono, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.

* Jack Edward Jones, 39, Jonesboro, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

*Joe Don Schulte, 33, of Jonesboro, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.

David Forrester, 29, of Searcy, charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.



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