Includes video report
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A past $100,000 winner of Arkansas' lottery was indicted today for allegedly being the kingpin of a major crystal methamphetamine operation.
A federal grand jury returned an 18-count indictment against Daniel "Dano" Henry Jr. of Austin and 19 others, capping a five-year investigation that was dubbed Operation "Big Winner" last fall after Henry claimed a $100,000 lottery prize on Sept. 24.
The organization that prosecutors allege Henry led dealt 5 to 10 pounds of crystal meth a week for the past two or three years, William Bryant, assistant special agent in charge of the Little Rock office of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, said at a news conference Tuesday.
"This was an operation that was dealing in multiple pounds of crystal meth," U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer said.
Henry, 39, was arrested Friday in Austin. He faces four federal drug counts.
Bryant said Henry first came to the attention of the DEA in 2005 and became the target of an investigation in 2006. Federal authorities allege his suppliers were Christian and Gladis Maldonado, a Kensett couple who prosecutors charge imported the drug from Mexico.
Christian Maldonado, 26, is in the United States illegally while his wife, 29, has permanent legal status, Bryant said.
Seventeen of those named in the indictment have been arrested. Three others remained at large this afternoon.
"We have agents and officers actively looking for them now," Bryant said. "We won't stop until we get them."
Henry and his wife, Rebecca Henry, 36, were arrested Friday after a State Police SWAT team raided his Austin residence. His sister, Jennifer Mize, 41, and mother, Margaret Diann Henry, 62, both of Austin, also were named in the indictment.
Authorities seized more than 7 pounds of meth and over $100,000 in cash in the raid, along with seven vehicles and six motorcycles, Bryant said.
Some 90 officers from nearly a dozen local, state and federal agencies took part in the arrests.
"This is a happy, happy day for Lonoke County people," said Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Roberson, whose agency assisted in the arrests Friday.
The Arkansas National Guard provided aerial support and surveillance, authorities said.
"It was out in the middle of nowhere," Bryant said. "So it made conventional surveillance very difficult, but we used every tool in our tool box."
With his lottery winnings and flashy cars — a black Corvette, a yellow H2 Hummer and a Chevy Tahoe were among the vehicles seized Friday — Henry had attracted attention in his hometown of just more than 2,000 people. Roberson and Bryant described Daniel Henry as a "known drug dealer."
"When we came out Friday, the neighbors were standing out and applauding" officers who arrested Daniel Henry, Bryant said. "The community was glad to get rid of him."
Henry and the Maldonados are in the custody of the U.S. Marshals service. Others who were arrested were charged and released.
"The investigation is ongoing," Bryant said. "Others are out there who are involved in this."
Others arrested in the operation:
- Michael Myers, 42, of Austin
- Patrick Linn, 38, of Little Rock
- Brent Amaden, 39, of Carlisle
- Michael Himstedt, 48, of Little Rock
- Michael Lesczyna, 31, of Lonoke
- John Henry Youngblood Jr., 40 of Jacksonville
- Rex Ingle, 43, of Carlisle
- Paul Criswell, 46, of Little Rock
- Paul Simpkins, 36, of Cabot
- Matthew Griffey, 30, North Little Rock
- Dustin Dyer, 33, of Benton
Those still at large:
- Jason Holmes, 36, of Cabot
- Oather Lee Fulmer, 44 of Cabot
- Aleisha Johnston, 23, Roland