Police & Fire

Clark County inmate taps into meth supply of vehicle impounded in cocaine smuggling arrest

Arkansas State Police discovered 33.8 pounds of cocaine during a traffic stop on Interstate 30 in Southwest Arkansas, and a Clark County inmate found even more drugs in the vehicle thanks to a tip from the smuggler


Authorities in Clark County this week charged a Houston, Texas, man for felony possession of narcotics following a traffic stop near the 78 mile marker of I-30, which is near the Caddo Valley exit. Following his arrest, the alleged drug trafficker would help supply meth to another inmate.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Clark County Circuit Court, 23-year-old Esteban Ortega Jr. was taken into custody following the Aug. 4 traffic stop. Ortega’s Audi Q3 SUV was towed to a local shop where Trooper Dustin Arnold recovered 33.8 pounds of cocaine “from within a compartment of the vehicle.” A female passenger, identified in arrest records as Camelia Padron, 28, was also taken into custody.

The vehicle was also taken to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, where it would be a jail trusty — not the police — who would find more drugs in the vehicle.

Ortega reportedly informed the trusty, who had access to outside areas of the sheriff’s office, that there were more narcotics “hidden on the exterior of the vehicle that had not been located by police.” On Sept. 26, Sgt. Russell Ursery would go on to locate 52 grams, or nearly 2 ounces, of meth “in an area where the inmate had access to.” That area is apparently where police parked Ortega’s vehicle in order to continue their search.

The inmate has not been identified in court documents, and it remains unknown whether Padron will face criminal charges. While Ortega likely faces additional charges for the cocaine, he’s being charged in this case with possession of methamphetamine, a Class B felony. Group 6 Narcotics Agent Sgt. Brent Whitworth filed the affidavit.