Man sentenced to 24 years following largest meth seizure in E. Tennessee

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Winston Salem man was sentenced to 24 years behind bars for his role leading and organizing a large-scale methamphetamine conspiracy, Dept. of Justice spokesperson Sharry Dedman-Beard announced. His sentencing followed what she described as the largest meth seizure in the East Tennessee Dist. and one of the largest in the state.

Abel Martinez Tavera, 38, and Placido Ventura Mendoza, 31, of Winston Salem, N.C., and Elias Mazariegos Perez, 32, of Newport, Tenn., were previously sentenced to serve 15 and a half, 14 and a half, and 15 years respectively, Dedman-Beard added. One more person Guadalupe Granado, 37, of Bybee, will be sentenced next month.

According to the Dept. of Justice, all of the defendants were illegal aliens and one of them, Rivera, had already once been deported from the United States back in 2008 following a conviction for Accessory After the Fact to Voluntary Manslaughter.

Dedmon-Beard explained that the investigation started whenan uncover agent in Greeneville purchased several small amounts of meth from Granado back in March of 2010. The agent then indicated he wanted to buy 10 to 20 pounds and, in a series of conversations the Dept. of Justice recorded, Granado said he needed to coordinate with "his people" to get that amount.

That May, officers in Hamblen Co. stopped several vehicles believed to be transporting the meth and found 10 pounds of it stashed under roofing nails in the back bed of a pickup, as well as a 9mm in another car. The Justice Dept. claimed Rivera and Granado were in different vehicle telling everyone else what to do.

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