LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas has brought down a drug and money laundering operation that they say funded a trucking operation.
According to a news release from the office, the final defendant in the multi-person indictment was sentenced to federal prison on Sept. 30.
United States District Judge James M. Moody sentenced Termaine Ontario Slaughter, 36, of Parkin, Arkansas, to 90 months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release.
On Nov. 18, 2020, Slaughter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Slaughter is the fourth and final defendant to be sentenced in an Indictment that was filed on June 6, 2018.
Three of the defendants received federal prison sentences.
“Our office and our federal partners will use every resource available to dismantle and disrupt drug trafficking organizations in Arkansas,” said Jonathan D. Ross, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
“In this case, we tracked the money, and it led us to straight to criminals who were trying to poison our communities. As these drug traffickers learned, if you choose this line of work, enjoy the money while you can, because it won’t last nearly as long as your prison sentence.”
Beginning in 2014 and continuing through 2018, Slaughter, Demario Smith, 40, of Southaven, Mississippi, Elliott Davis, 41, of Colt, Arkansas, Montana Smith, 45, of Parkin, Arkansas, and others were involved in the distribution of methamphetamine in the Forrest City, Arkansas, area, the news release stated.
Slaughter and Demario Smith used drug proceeds to fund a trucking business called Prudent Transport and a rental property business called Upscale Properties. Evidence showed that Slaughter and his associates imported methamphetamine from the Dallas area using couriers who rode the Megabus from Memphis to Dallas and back, according to the news release.
The organization also imported methamphetamine from California using the United States mail and other mailing services.
“An extensive analysis of records from the trucking business and rental properties showed that from 2013-2017 Slaughter’s personal and business accounts had $733,811 in deposits coming from unidentified sources,” the news release stated.
“Analysis showed that there were $877,359.60 in cash expenditures on vehicles and other items that did not come from the accounts, including the purchase of tractor trailers for the trucking business. Bank records revealed that cash deposits in amounts under $10,000 were systematically made at bank branches in Memphis, Mississippi, and Arkansas, with corresponding amounts of cash being withdrawn from other bank locations on the same date or close in time.”
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jarad Harper noted that the investigation is “an extraordinary example of thorough and methodical financial exploitation in order to disrupt and dismantle the financial infrastructure of these methamphetamine drug trafficking organizations.”
He continued: “The DEA will relentlessly pursue, exploit, and seize these illicit assets drug traffickers intentionally and nefariously conceal to circumvent reporting requirements. Working with all of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we will continue to combine our resources in order to identify these ill-gotten funds used to facilitate drug trafficking and violent crime in our region. By depleting these drug traffickers of their proceeds and eliminating their ability to continue distributing this poison in Arkansas and beyond, we are saving lives.”
On Nov. 19, 2020, Demario Smith pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and on May 26, 2021, was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment. On Nov. 19, 2020, Davis pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and on June 8, 2021, he was sentenced to 51 months’ imprisonment.
On Nov. 19, 2020, Montana Smith pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, and on June 9, 2021, he was sentenced to five years’ probation.
During the Sept. 30 sentencing hearing, in addition to receiving his prison sentence, Slaughter agreed to forfeit numerous firearms and five vehicles, including four over-the-road trucks used by Prudent Transport and a Dodge Challenger.