By JIM SALTER
(ST. LOUIS, Mo., AP) – A two-state sting operation resulted in 125 arrests Wednesday in southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas, with many of the suspects accused of trafficking drugs and weapons.
The arrests were the result of a two-year investigation known as HITS (High Intensity Trafficking Suppression), according to a joint news release from several local, state and federal law enforcement organizations. More than 150 law enforcement officers made the arrests starting Wednesday morning.
“This investigation is a prime example of what happens when agencies work together to make their communities safer,” said Marino F. Vidoli of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The investigation was in response to firearms violence and trafficking of drugs and weapons in the region, authorities said. As part of the sting, 108 firearms were confiscated along with methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and a variety of pills.
Police were involved in more than 240 undercover operations as part of the investigation, the news release said.
Fifty-two of the defendants are being prosecuted in Pemiscot County, Mo., and 19 in nearby Dunklin County, Mo. The U.S. Attorney’s office for Eastern Missouri is prosecuting 22 cases.
In Arkansas, the state’s Second Judicial District is prosecuting 14 cases, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Arkansas is handling 19 cases, and one defendant is being prosecuted in two jurisdictions.
The defendants range in age from 19 to 69. More than three dozen are from Blytheville, Ark., and more than two dozen each are from Hayti, Mo., and Kennett, Mo.