LITTLE ROCK — A man described by federal authorities as one of the leaders of a drug trafficking operation broken up by law enforcement officers earlier this year pleaded guilty Wednesday to drug and weapons charges.

LITTLE ROCK — A man described by federal authorities as one of the leaders of a drug trafficking operation broken up by law enforcement officers earlier this year pleaded guilty Wednesday to drug and weapons charges.

U.S. District Court James Moody accepted Sedrick Trice’s plea during a hearing and said that under the agreement the 27-year-old would avoid life in prison and receive a 40-year sentence.

Trice was one of 70 people — including five law enforcement officers — nabbed in October during a federal and state investigation called “Operation Delta Blues.”

Trice, also known as “Binky” or “B,” was charged in October with 16 drug and weapons offenses. He pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and possession of a firearm during the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The other 14 charges were dismissed as part of the agreement, the judge said.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Trice admitted he was a leader in the drug trafficking ring and that he carried a handgun with him for protection.

Federal prosecutor Julie Peters, reading from the plea agreement, told the judge that beginning in January 2010, Trice “distributed large quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine marijuana and other controlled substances” in Phillips County, and in other eastern Arkansas counties, as well as in Clarksdale, Miss., Memphis, Tenn., and elsewhere.

Trice and an accomplice operated the drug trafficking ring out of a number of businesses and buildings in Helena-West Helena, including across from a junior high school, Peters told the judge.

“Trice cooked cocaine into crack cocaine at least twice a week and sometimes twice a day, usually in 21 gram or ounce quantities,” Peters said.

The investigation, which centered on the Phillips County town of Helena-West Helena, not only involved trafficking of illegal drugs, but also bribery, money laundering and racketeering, federal officials said during a hearing in October.

The five law enforcement officers arrested all have pleaded innocent.

Moody said a sentencing hearing for Trice would be scheduled later.