Mexicans Arrested for Drug Trafficking
More Mexicans Arrested for Drug Trafficking in Johnson City

21 East Tennessee Residents Indicted for Math Distribution-Manufacturing

September 17, 2012 Department of Justice
United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee
Major Methamphetamine Manufacturing Conspiracy Members Arrested By Local State And Federal Law Enforcement

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - A federal grand jury in Greeneville returned a 16-count indictment on September 11, 2012, charging 21 individuals operating in communities throughout northeast Tennessee, with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine; distribution of methamphetamine; possession of equipment, chemicals, and materials for manufacturing methamphetamine; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Those indicted include:

Joseph Bob Banner, 33, Erwin, Tenn.;Brandon Michael Beals, 21, Erwin, Tenn.;Robert Charles Bennett, 35, Johnson City, Tenn.; Stacy Glen Black, 41, Erwin, Tenn.; Jason Anthony Briggs, 33, Flag Pond, Tenn.; Jeffrey Ray Casey, 33, Washington County, Tenn.; Clinton Cody Cooper, 26, Erwin, Tenn.; Lisa Engle Effler, 41, Erwin, Tenn.; Ray Charles English, 20, Erwin, Tenn.; Timothy Shaun Franklin, 34, Erwin, Tenn.' David Edward Gardner, 51, Unicoi, Tenn.; Donnie Lynn Hensley, 39, Erwin, Tenn.; Jarrod Allen Hicks, 31, Unicoi, Tenn.; Jerry Wayne Howell, 45, Erwin, Tenn.; Autumn Michelle McKinney, 25, Elizabethton, Tenn.; Samuel McCoy Sanders, III., 35, Jonesborough, Tenn.; Brian Stacey Smith, 39, Johnson City, Tenn.; Daniel Scott Smith, 38, Erwin, Tenn.; Michael Travis Smith, 37, Erwin, Tenn.; George Richard Thomas, Jr., 29, Erwin, Tenn.; Spencer Jay Yates, 35, Jonesborough, Tenn.;

Local, state, and federal law enforcement agents, executed arrest warrants early on September 17, 2012, and took many of these individuals into custody. Those apprehended made their initial appearance on September 17, 2012 in U.S. District Court before the Honorable Dennis H. Inman, U.S. Magistrate Judge. More arrests are expected.

If convicted, the individuals charged with manufacturing and distribution conspiracies face a minimum term of 10 years, up to life, in prison, a $10,000,000.00 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 $1,000,000.00 find, and at least three years of supervised release.

Individuals 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 $1,000,000.00, 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.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force - 1 877 TNN-Meth -

Methamphetamine has been identified as the largest drug threat by most law enforcement professionals in the country. It is a highly addictive - meth destroys the addict, the homes where they manufacture their drug, children, and family members. It is harmful to everyone in the community where it is allowed to exist.

Known as "Ice", pure methamphetamine in this form can be almost transparent, making it look like ice. Meth became a popular drug because it can be manufactured with common household products, the "high" is more powerful and lasts longer than most drugs. Meth has also been heavily marketed by major drug trafficking organizations, and the addictive qualities of Meth are among the strongest of any known drug. In the late 1990's Tennessee became one of the largest producers of clandestine Meth labs in the country.

2010 is a Record Year for Meth Seizures in Tennessee.

The 2,082 Meth Lab Seizures in Tennessee during 2010 surpassed the previous record of 1,559 by over 520 labs! The prior record was achieved in 2004, before the Meth Free Tennessee Act and Combat Meth Act were passed on state and federal levels. There have been 11,149 meth lab seizures in Tennessee since 1999! There are a few reasons for the increase, but the primary reason for the increase in meth lab seizures is that criminals have adapted to the measures that were placed in effect by the legislation passed in 2005.

Smurf groups have developed throughout the state and nation. These loosely formed Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO's) are populated by meth addicts, prescription drug abusers, and other criminals. They use the Shake and Bake Manufacturing Method predominantly because of its ease, speed, and portability. Some of the largest of these local DTO's are sponsored by known gang members. Police efforts have also contributed to the increase. Law Enforcement officers increasingly use the Tennessee Meth Intelligence System (TMIS) to identify offenders and their associates. TMIS use is up 492% from 2007 to 2010!

The result of this use is not only meth seizures; it includes more arrests of offenders and more children rescued from the meth cooks. There have been 1,835 arrests reported so far for 2010. Established criminal activities and methods, coupled with increased law enforcement activity and community awareness will result in continued high seizure rates in Tennessee in 2011. Current projections are for seizures to level off at 2,376 meth lab related seizures in 2011.

See Crime by Race in Tennessee

Prescription drug use is a problem in Tennessee

Drug overdose deaths in Tennessee are increasing:

The number of drug overdose deaths in Tennessee increased from 422 in 2001 to 1,059 in 2010; The number of drug overdose deaths in 2010 represents an increase of 250% over the 10 year time period. Includes all drug overdose deaths where the manner of death was listed as one of the following: accidental, undetermined, suicide (intentional), or homicide.

Source: Office of Policy, Planning and Assessment, Tennessee Department of Health - Death Certificates.

The top three most prescribed controlled substances in Tennessee in 2010 are:

275.5 million pills of hydrocodone (e.g., Lortab, Lorcet, Vicodin);

116.6 million pills prescribed for alprazolam (e.g., Xanax: used to treat anxiety);

113.5 million pills prescribed for oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Roxicodone) Hydrocodone and oxycodone are both prescription opioids used to treat pain.

The number of drugs prescribed during 2010 to Tennesseans represents:
51 pills of hydrocodone for EVERY Tennessean above the age of 12;
22 pills of alprazolam for EVERY Tennessean above the age of 12;
21 pills of oxycodone for EVERY Tennessean above the age of 12.

Source: Report to the 2011 General Assembly by the Tennessee Department of Health Controlled Substance Database Advisory Committee, Board of Pharmacy.

Prescription drug abuse affects everyone:

Abuse of prescription opioids is the number one drug problem for Tennesseans receiving state-funded treatment services;

Almost 250,000 Tennesseans older than 12 reported abusing prescription opioids in 2009.

Source: Treatment Episode Data Set - Admission (TEDS-A). 1999 - 2009. SAMHSA State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Disorders from the 2008 - 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.

Prescription drug abuse hits every profession and every socioeconomic level:

For those seeking state-funded treatment, people who were stable (married, employed and had at least a high school education) were 3.16 times more likely than less stable consumers to use prescription opioids than illicit drugs.

Source: Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services. Tennessee Web Information Technology System (TN WITS) Database.

Prescription drug abuse especially affects women:

While more men were admitted to treatment in 2009 than women, a higher percentage of women abuse prescription opioids;

21% of 6,827 men reported prescription opioids as their primary substance of abuse;

27% of 3,403 women listed prescription opioids as their primary substance of abuse;

35% of 142 pregnant women admitted to state-funded treatment services in Tennessee listed prescription opioids as their primary substance of abuse.

Source: SAMHSA State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Disorders from the 2008 - 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.