LITTLE ROCK-West Memphis man with a prior murder conviction was sentenced today to 210 months in federal prison for his involvement in a methamphetamine conspiracy. Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced that Terry Whittier Jr., 39, was sentenced as part of Operation Money Don’t Sleep, which targets drug trafficking in West Memphis and the surrounding areas.
In September 2015, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and West Memphis Police Department began investigating a drug trafficking organization in West Memphis. As part of this investigation, agents received court authorization for numerous interceptions for cell phones, often called wiretaps. Investigators were able to intercept numerous phone calls in which Whittier coordinated drug transactions. Whittier and other coconspirators received their drug supply through the mail with the assistance of a postal employee, Cleavon Shaw, who has also been convicted and sentenced to 90 months in prison. With assistance of the United States Postal Inspection Service, agents seized more than six pounds of methamphetamine.
West Memphis Police later executed a search warrant at Whittier’s apartment, where they located approximately 55 grams of marijuana, 4.7 grams of methamphetamine, digital scales, a Glock pistol, and more than $11,000 in cash. Whittier’s involvement in the methamphetamine conspiracy took place while he was on parole for a second-degree homicide conviction, after he shot and killed Austin Kirkwood in 2002.
On July 11, 2017, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Whittier and others with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute methamphetamine. Whittier pleaded guilty on September 18, 2019. In exchange for that plea, the government agreed to dismiss a related case charging Whittier with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Today, United States District Court Judge James M. Moody sentenced Whittier to more than 17 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Drugs and violence go hand in hand, and this defendant’s prior murder conviction demonstrates how important it is to keep our communities free of drug trafficking,” stated U.S. Attorney Hiland. “Today’s lengthy sentence shows that even in the midst of a global pandemic, justice will continue to be served. Criminals should know that law enforcement’s commitment to protect our community from those who would do us harm will remain steadfast and determined.”
“Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug and one of the most destructive drugs we face today. DEA and our law enforcement partners are working hard to thwart the threat of methamphetamine distribution and abuse here in the West Memphis area and beyond,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Justin King. “We have successfully collaborated with our local, state and federal partners in order to put this violent career criminal in federal prison for a long time as a result of his desire to supply the citizens in this community with methamphetamine.”
Operation Money Don’t Sleep is an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation that is being conducted by the DEA and the West Memphis Police Department.
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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, is available online at