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Ark City drug bust brings 15 arrests

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Jan. 22, 2010, at 12:05 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010, at 5:42 a.m.

WINFIELD — A three-year drug-trafficking investigation including federal agencies has led to the arrests of 15 people living in or near Arkansas City, authorities said Thursday.

So far, at least 10 people have been charged as a result of the investigation, which involved about 14 local, state and federal agencies.

On Wednesday, as a part of the arrests, investigators searched nine locations in and near Arkansas City.

"Small communities are where traffickers think they can set up shop. I think yesterday ... they found out differently," Arkansas City Police Chief Sean Wallace said at a news conference at the Cowley County Courthouse.

Up to 90 officers from various agencies took part in the arrests. SWAT teams assisted. There were no injuries, officials said.

The operation has gone smoothly, Assistant Kansas Attorney General Steven Wilhoft said.

Wilhoft declined to say how the investigation started or discuss the extent of the alleged drug trafficking.

Authorities are seeking at least four more suspects.

Those charged so far are from Arkansas City or rural Arkansas City and range in age from 19 to 49. They are being held on bonds of $50,000 to $500,000.

According to authorities, the charges include conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana; cocaine and marijuana possession; distribution of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school; and use of a communication facility to arrange the sale or purchase of a controlled substance.

Authorities identified the 10 people charged under warrants executed Wednesday as: Patrick Galindo, 21; Ramon Paul Martinez, 29; Clint Edward Walker Jr., 19; Jeffery Lawrence Marshall, 31; Anthony Wayne Henderson, 29; Darin Jake Pinion, 26; Sarah Janelle Oestmann, 24; David Neal Bain, 49; Israel Perez Garcia, 30; and Nellie Mae Tracy, 35.

At the news conference, Wallace, the Arkansas City police chief, said: "Drugs drive property crimes," including burglary and theft. "We've seen an increase in that."

Drug-related crimes also have a "severe impact" on families, especially in cases where children are at homes where drug-related operations occur, Wilhoft said. He said he couldn't comment on whether children were removed from homes and taken into protective custody as a result of the arrests.

Agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been assisting with the case. Also helping were K-9 units with the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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