Federal indictments target major East Tennessee meth manufacturing conspiracy
From Staff Reports
According to a release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee William C. Killian, those indicted include: Joseph Bob Banner, 33, Erwin; Brandon Michael Beals, 21, Erwin; Robert Charles Bennett, 35, Johnson City; Stacy Glen Black, 41, Erin; Jason Anthony Briggs, 33, Flag Pond; Jeffrey Ray Casey, 33, Washington County; Clinton Cody Cooper, 26, Erin; Lisa Engle Effler, 41, Erwin; Ray Charles English, 20, Erwin; Timothy Shaun Franklin, 34, Erwin; David Edward Gardner, 51, Unicoi; Donnie Lynn Hensley, 39, Erwin; Jarrod Allen Hicks, 31, Unicoi; Jerry Wayne Howell, 45, Erwin; Autmn Michelle McKinney, 25, Elizabethton; Samuel McCoy Sanders III, 35, Jonesborough; Brian Stacey Smith, 39, Johnson City; Daniel Scott Smith, 38, Erwin; Michael Travis Smith, 37, Erwin; George Richard Thomas Jr., 29, Erwin; and Spencer Jay Yates, 35, Jonesborough.
Local, state, and federal law enforcement agents executed arrest warrants early Monday and arrested a number of those who were indicted. Those apprehended made their initial appearance Monday in U.S. District Court before Judge Dennis H. Inman. More arrests are expected.
If convicted, those charged with manufacturing and distribution conspiracies face a minimum term of 10 years, up to life, in prison, a $10 million fine, and at least five years of supervised release.
Those charged with distribution of methamphetamine face a term of not more than 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and at least three years of supervised release.
Those charged with possession of equipment, chemicals, or materials for manufacturing methamphetamine face a term of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of $1 million, and at least three years supervised release.
Those charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime face a mandatory five-year prison sentence to run consecutively to the sentence for the underlying drug offense.
According to the release, the indictments were the result of an ongoing, intensive, and coordinated multi-agency investigation designed to combat a growing problem of “one-pot” or “shake-and-bake” methamphetamine manufacturing rings operating in communities in northeast Tennessee.
This collaborative investigation was led by law enforcement officers with the Erwin Police Department, Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force, and Drug Enforcement Administration, with additional agencies providing critical support, intelligence, and expertise.
Other agencies assisting with the investigation include the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Kingsport Police Department, Johnson City Police Department, Elizabethton Police Department, Tennessee National Guard Intelligence Group, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, 3rd Judicial District Drug Task Force, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Office of District Attorney General Tony Clark.
Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Christian Lampe will represent the United States in this prosecution.