- Operation Delta Blues is a federal crackdown on drug trafficking and public corruption
- The two-year investigation involved 16 court-authorized wiretaps
- The inquiry focused on Helena-West Helena and Marianna, Arkansas
- "We believe there are more cases of corruption," an FBI agent says
Five law enforcement officers were among 70 people in Arkansas charged in a federal drug-trafficking crackdown that also involved public corruption charges, authorities said Tuesday.
The five officers took bribes to look the other way while crimes were being committed, authorities said.
Investigators are continuing to look at other law agencies for criminal misconduct, authorities said.
On Tuesday, 800 federal and local authorities arrested 51 of the 70 people, officials said. Five others were already in custody, and the remaining 14 defendants are considered fugitives, authorities said. The Arkansas National Guard was also involved in making the arrests, authorities said.
One agent was shot while serving warrants, and he is hospitalized with injuries that are not life-threatening, authorities said.
The law enforcement figures named in indictments are Helena-West Helena Police Department officer Herman Eaton, 46; Helena-West Helena officer Robert "Bam Bam" Rogers, 35; Helena-West Helena Sgt. Marlene Kalb, 48; Marvell police officer Robert Wahls, 42; and former Phllips County Deputy Sheriff Winston Dean Jackson, 44, who's now a Helena-West Helena police officer, according to court records and a prosecutors' statement.
Their attorneys couldn't be immediately determined or reached for comment.
A two-year investigation, called Operation Delta Blues, focused on public corruption, cocaine and crack cocaine trafficking, and money laundering in the Helena-West Helena and Marianna, Arkansas, areas, authorities said. Investigators used 16 court-authorized wiretaps in their investigation, officials said.
"Today's indictments and arrests are merely the beginning. We believe there are more cases of corruption, and we intend to press forward with our investigation to weed out those who would sacrifice their oath and violate the public's trust," said Valerie Parlave, special agent in charge of the Little Rock field office for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"Several of those indicted today are no strangers to law enforcement. Many have been charged in state court with some of the serious class (of) felonies, including murder," Parlave continued. "Yet they remain free today. As our investigation moves forward, we continue to find instances where these violent felonies were never completely prosecuted and some of the most serious charges were dropped."
Added U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer of the Eastern District of Arkansas, "Our commitment to eradicating drug trafficking and violent crime has never been stronger.
"When these two elements are mixed with law enforcement corruption, it can make for the perfect storm in a community. It can paralyze honest law enforcement action, silence witnesses, and erode public confidence in our system of justice," Thyer said in a written statement.