Four pounds of crystal meth — with a street value of about $173,000 — were recovered from a vehicle on Rockford Walker Court early Tuesday morning after the driver was found asleep, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office reported.
The driver is in Blount County Jail in lieu of bonds totaling $250,000, pending a 9 a.m. hearing Feb. 6 in Blount County General Sessions Court.
Leroy Vanover, 40, Knoxville, faces charges of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance for resale and introduction of drugs into a penal facility — the second charge because officers said they found more methamphetamine in his pants pocket at the jail.
Shortly after 3 a.m. Jan. 29, Blount County deputies were conducting a traffic stop of another vehicle on Rockford Walker Court when they noticed a Volkswagen Passat parked nearby on the roadway.
The driver was slumped over asleep, and a deputy saw an open beer can in the cup holder, as well as marijuana, and smelled the odor of marijuana emitting from the car, the BCSO said.
After deputies took Vanover into custody, a BCSO K-9 team and other deputies located in the car a backpack that contained 4 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, along with a small amount of heroin and pills.
Thomas E. Justice, 49, Knoxville, came out of a nearby residence and told deputies he was a passenger in Vanover’s vehicle. He was charged on seven outstanding warrants out of Knox County.
Deputies also arrested Tracee L. Sharp, 46, Mountain View Circle, Maryville, another visitor at the same residence, after they discovered a warrant for her arrest in Sevier County.
The driver of the vehicle from the original traffic stop was not arrested, nor was he involved in the incident.
One of largest
The seizure Tuesday was one of the largest meth busts in the county, a BCSO spokeswoman said.
In March 2017, the Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force and deputies with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office arrested two Georgia men at a business on West Lamar Alexander Parkway after a months-long investigation and seized about 4.4 pounds of crystal meth in their vehicle, which at the time had an estimated street value of about $200,000.
“We are tired of witnessing our citizens fall prey to the lure of a short-term high that can and will eventually be the death of too many individuals,” Sheriff James Lee Berrong said in a statement announcing Tuesday’s arrests. “The seizure of this crystal methamphetamine, which is one of the most addictive substances in the world, is a good lick, and I am relieved that it will not end up in the hands of our people.
“To put this amount of crystal methamphetamine into perspective, the current street value of 4 pounds of methamphetamine is approximately $173,000. That is a huge impact to our community in the way of the health and well-being of our citizens, as well as fewer crimes being committed surrounding this illicit substance,” Berrong said.