Arkansas city finds quiet, hope after drug arrests

By JEANNIE NUSS and NOMAAN MERCHANT | October 19, 2011 | 11:05 AM EDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Residents in Helena-West Helena knew something was up as drug dealing and violent crimes crept into their isolated Mississippi River city. But few bothered calling for help as gunfire rang out because of mistrust toward police.

Then, hundreds of law enforcement officers swarmed the Arkansas city last week as part of a four-year federal investigation dubbed "Operation Delta Blues."

They arrested dozens of people, including five law enforcement officers accused of taking bribes to ignore and sometimes help drug traffickers.

Since the arrests, people in Helena-West Helena say the gunfire has quieted down. But some wonder if they're only seeing a short break from the noise and violence.