HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. -- More than one hundred city, state and federal officers patrolled the streets of Eastern Arkansas on Tuesday, with a heavy focus in Helena West Helena.
“We’re getting the guns off the street, wanted individuals, and as you can see today, when you start shaking some sheets, everybody’s going to start coming in," said Helena-West Helena Police Chief James Smith.
It’s part of operation “Press Your Luck," going after fugitive gang members wanted for violent offenses.
“We want to let bad guys know we’re out here and we’re partnering up and we’re trying to make this thing where people feel safe.”
Officers took 44 wanted people into custody, including a capital murder suspect who turned himself in: Melvin Jefferson.
Jefferson’s accused of beating a man to death with a hammer in November. Police say Jefferson did it while he and his three accomplices committed a home-invasion robbery. They’re also accused of shooting two others during the crime.
“These victims were hardworking individuals in our community. They didn’t mean any harm to anyone to have that type of crime happen to them, it was a surprise, not only to myself, but the whole community.”
Jefferson told WREG he had no involvement in the incident.
“It’s just a lot of rumors and a lot of lies going on and I’m not going to talk to nobody but my lawyer," he said.
Authorities say the arrests show change is coming to Helena West Helena. The city of 12,000 has already seen four homicides this year.
“They are well on their way to turn this thing around," said U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland.
They expect more operations like Tuesday’s in the future.
“We have some good people here, some good hometown people who love their town and I love my city, and we’re going to do whatever we possibly can to make this thing right," said Chief Smith.
Authorities couldn’t go into detail on the different warrants arrests were made on Tuesday. They were looking for 63 people total.