White County couple arrested on wildlife violations

SEARCY – A White County couple was arrested Thursday on several wildlife violations, including allegedly using deer and other wild animals to make tamales in their roadside stand, the state Game and Fish Commission said.

Wildlife officers took Fred Thomas Atkins III, 49, and his wife, Betty Louise Williams, 28, into custody in their tamale stand on Arkansas 16 between Searcy and Pangburn, the commission said. They were issued citations for several game violations, including buying and selling wildlife, and were taken to the White County Detention Center in Searcy.

If convicted, Atkins and Williams could face fines up to $5,000 on each count and up to a year in jail.

In a six-week investigation, authorities said undercover wildlife officers sold several deer to Atkins and purchased tamales suspected of being made with deer meat. Officers from the White County sheriff’s office and investigators with the Central Arkansas Drug Task Force, along with the AGFC, were involved in the investigation, the agency said.

Capt. Bill Howell of the AGFC said the individuals were gathering as many illegal deer as they could get.

“It was not only the wildlife violations that we were concerned about, but also the health concerns. It was a great team effort by several agencies to protect Arkansas’ valuable natural resources and allow the public to safely enjoy them,” Howell said.