63 charged in drug investigation

Published 6:11 pm Friday, March 23, 2018

A year-long joint drug investigation by the Carter County Sheriff’s Office and the Elizabethton Police Department has led to charges against 63 people with more arrested as officers serve warrants and indictments according to both law enforcement agencies.

On Friday afternoon, Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford, Elizabethton Police Chief Jason Shaw, and District Attorney General Tony Clark held a joint press conference to discuss the charges and arrests.

Over the past four days, Lunceford said deputies with his department and officers of the EPD have worked alongside agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to serve warrants and indictments.

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The law enforcement officers sought 63 individuals in connection with narcotics-related offenses. The officers arrested another 15 individuals who were found as officers attempted to serve the warrants and indictments. Some of those additional 15 were wanted on outstanding warrants, while others were found involved in illegal activity when officers found them, Lunceford said.

“Criminals hanging out with criminals,” he said.

The “majority” of the original 63 wanted individuals are now in custody, according to Lunceford, and he said he anticipates officers will be serving more indictments and warrants over the next few days.

Once all the wanted individuals are located and arrested, Lunceford said he and Shaw would be releasing a list of names and charges from the investigation and roundup.

“It takes time, and it needs to remain confidential to be successful,” Lunceford said.

The agencies seized a large amount of cash as well as some firearms and vehicles as part of the roundup, according to Lunceford.

“Investigations conducted a very specific analysis of intelligence developed by both departments to identify larger-level dealers within the Elizabethton – Carter County area, with the primary purpose of disrupting the distribution channels of illegal narcotics being brought to this area and to bring those responsible to justice,” Lunceford said.

Around a year ago, the drug investigation units of both departments began operating jointly through shared manpower and intelligence, according to Lunceford and Shaw.

“This partnership has yielded tremendous results, including the seizure of nearly $1.2 Million in street-level narcotics in the past year and over 300 drug-related arrests,” Lunceford said.

Shaw said the investigation was the result of a lot of hard work by many individuals, including not just the investigators but patrol officers, dispatchers, and others. The community also played a large role in the investigation, Shaw added, by providing tips to officers.

“These cases evolved out of a lot of these tips,” Shaw said. He encouraged anyone with information about illegal activity to report it to law enforcement.

Clark praised the work of the two departments in their investigation and noted the area is facing a serious drug activity problem.

“Taking these people off the street will put a dent in it,” Clark said.