Sheriff’s Office, city police department announce arrest of 52 in two-day drug bust

The Elizabethton Police Department and the Carter County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday afternoon the arrests of 52 individuals in a two-day drug bust in Carter County.

County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said there was a special call grand jury beforehand that gave out 44 indictments for conspiracy to sell methamphetamine. Roughly 38 members of that list were arrested during the bust, along with an additional 14 arrests at the scene.

“This began in late 2018,” Lunceford said. “This is not part of the Crystal Mountain case.”

The bust comes through the partnership between Lunceford and city police chief Jason Shaw’s departments that started roughly three years ago.

“Our intention is to disrupt their day-to-day habits,” Lunceford said.

Officials said part of their success comes from new strategies the district attorney’s office has taken to combat the rising popularity of this drug. These charges are conspiracy related, in addition to other charges such as possessing a firearm during the transaction and conducting these sales in drug-free zones.

Lunceford said the other part comes from their new computer system, which he said is currently tracking around 400 drug dealers in the region.

“These are tools we can use to combat it,” Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks said.

District Attorney General Ken Baldwin announced during the press conference Brooks will now conduct all cases like these in the four counties.

“This will bring uniformity,” Baldwin said. “We are building up on the efforts of the Carter County Sheriff’s Office and the city police department.”

They said they plan to expand this new monitoring system to the rest of the first district in the future, to help link other counties to a network of information that will better enable these kinds of busts in the future.

“We cannot say we are losing the war on drugs if we are not using all our weapons,” Brooks said.

They said efforts like these will use this new cooperation to better expand their ability to prosecute criminals who sell drugs.

“This helps us create a picture, show who is dealing with who,” Lunceford said.

Officials also had something to say to the drug dealers who watched the livestream.

“You better quit or move,” Lunceford said. “We know who you are, and we will come and get you.”

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