The list of fugitives being sought in connection with Operation Central Sweep has whittled down to three after Terry Michael White, 26, of Batesville was arrested Sunday at 11 p.m. White was one of four on the U.S. Marshal’s Office list of fugitives to find, related to this sweep. He is being held at the White County Sheriff’s Office on 17 charges with four bonds: $250, $500, $1,900 and $100,000.
On the morning of March 11, 17 individuals were arrested as part of a sweeping law enforcement operation that targeted associates of a drug organization responsible for the distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine in Searcy and the White County area.
The new hangar at the Searcy Municipal Airport was used as a staging area as law enforcement officials from various agencies rounded up the individuals and brought them there to be taken to the White County Detention Center.
Operation Central Sweep started in April 2020 to “combat the growing violent crimes associated with gang-related activity traced to the ‘Gangster Disciples,’ a drug distribution organization operating in the Searcy area,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Bragg said.
A grand jury returned 33 indictments March 5, which were unsealed March 11, naming those charged with various drug and firearms offenses. Eight of the 33 defendants were already in state custody before the March 11 sweep. Prior to 17 others being arrested that morning, Operation Central Sweep’s investigation resulted in the seizure of 105 pounds of methamphetamine, 3.3 pounds of cocaine and 44 firearms. At an afternoon news conference, authorities displayed four additional weapons that were seized.
“It was successful and it was safe,” said Jonathan D. Ross, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. “No one was hurt.”
White was also arrested in November 2020 in an incident in which a state trooper was dragged by a vehicle, sustaining minor injuries.
State Trooper 1st Class Austin Lay initiated a traffic stop at 5:49 p.m. along Ralph Reed Road, south of Arkansas Highway 157, because a minivan that White was driving reportedly had an expired license plate.
“White refused to comply with the trooper’s orders to exit the vehicle, and White sped way during the traffic stop, dragging TFC Lay along the county road,” ASP spokesman Bill Sadler said in a statement at the time.
Lay was able to “extricate himself” from the vehicle and return to his patrol unit to pursue the minivan, which traveled approximately two miles before stopping, Sadler said. White and a passenger, according to the statement, fled on foot and were apprehended a short time later.
Jackie W. Foster, 35, of Judsonia also has been preliminarily charged in connection with this incident, Sadler said. A 34-year-old woman and a 17-year-old male who were passengers in the minivan were questioned by police. The criminal investigation of the incident is continuing.
Lay was examined at a hospital and released later.