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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Arkansas
Jonathan D. Ross, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 4, 2024

Seven Defendants Sentenced to Federal Prison for Trafficking Methamphetamine and Fentanyl

      LITTLE ROCK—Jonathan D. Ross, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced today that seven defendants have been sentenced by United States District Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. to federal prison for trafficking methamphetamine and fentanyl. Each of the defendants previously pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl tablets.

      On November 3, 2021, Kyle Harris and Armando Luna were indicted on three counts relating to methamphetamine trafficking. A superseding indictment filed on February 2, 2022, added Taylor, Chaney, Davis, Helms, and Kriesel. The superseding indictment added charges related to firearms and substantial drug trafficking, to include fentanyl trafficking. The defendants pled guilty to Counts 1 and 2 of the Superseding Indictment and with the exception of Davis, faced life imprisonment on one or more counts. There is no parole in the federal system.

      From July 2019 through August 2021, defendants engaged in the distribution of pound quantities of methamphetamine and thousands of fentanyl tablets in Russellville, Conway, and surrounding communities. Several defendants have significant criminal histories, including prior drug trafficking convictions. Defendants Harris, Taylor, Chaney, and Davis are classified as “career offenders.”

Defendant Age City/State Plea Date Sentence
Kyle Harris 36 Conway, Arkansas 8/3/2022

204 months,

10 years supervised release

Armando Luna 28 Russellville, Arkansas 7/20/222

156 months,

5 years supervised release

Benjamin Taylor 34 Atkins, Arkansas 3/6/2023

216 months,

5 years supervised release

Zachery Chaney 36 Russellville, Arkansas 8/1/2022

180 months,

10 years supervised release

Joseph Davis 52 Russellville, Arkansas 8/1/2022

168 months,

4 years supervised release

Clara Helms 32 Russellville, Arkansas 8/4/2022

98 months,

4 years supervised release

Blake Kriesel 28 Russellville, Arkansas 8/24/2022

120 months,

5 years supervised release

      During the investigation, law enforcement recovered thousands of fentanyl tablets, pound quantities of methamphetamine, ounce quantities of heroin, tablets of para-Fluorofentanyl, and other controlled substances. At times, the fentanyl tablets were concealed in packaging for fruit snacks and resembled oxycodone tablets. Multiple firearms were also recovered by law enforcement.

      “The scourge of methamphetamine and fentanyl continues to destroy lives and communities across our country. We will continue to use every available resource to identify and prosecute those involved with the distribution of these drugs and will not waste time developing sympathy for them. Rather, we will seek the most severe sentences under the law,” said Ross.

      “The ATF is working closely with local and state police agencies to prevent firearm trafficking and the scourge of deadly drugs, including fentanyl, flooding our communities,” said ATF New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Joshua Jackson. “Alongside our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF is dedicated to pursuing and combating these criminals to prevent them from doing harm to our communities and neighborhoods.”

      “It is admirable to see the combined efforts of all those who worked diligently to investigate and prosecute these cases with the common purpose of making the River Valley communities a safer place to live,” said David Ewing, Chief of Police for Russellville Police Department. “These drug trafficking convictions will send a strong message that we are collectively committed to that common purpose.”

      “I’m proud of our local law enforcement, particularly Drug Task Forces that cooperate with Federal authorities to take drug traffickers off the streets,” said Jeff Phillips, Fifth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. “It normally starts at the local level and cooperation between the agencies is vital to successful prosecutions.”

      The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Russellville Police Department, Pope County Sheriff’s Office, Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force, and Conway Police Department.

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