Grainger Co. sheriff's goal to wipe out meth

By: Angela Starke Email
By: Angela Starke Email

GRAINGER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - A deputy stopped to help a woman with a flat tire and ended up arresting her and three others for meth. It happened on Highway 11 and Avondale Road in Rutledge on Saturday.

A man living at a house across the street told the deputy that one of those people distracted him while another stole from his home.
Grainger County deputies arrested Robyn Welch, Linda Blevins, Richard Wooley and Melody Ball.

It's all a part of a larger crack down.

"We're very serious. Something needed to be done for a long time. We incorporated a drug task force to help us," says Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel.

Layel has been sheriff in Grainger County for only a year, but he says he's determined to wipe out the meth problem.

"They pledge their allegiance working undercover. My officers are vigilant and working against the drug culture," the Sheriff said.

After a deputy stopped to help the suspects change a flat tire, he noticed all of the individuals seemed to be under the influence of drugs.

"In a scan of the vehicle, he noticed several components of a meth lab," Sheriff Layel said.

During the search, deputies also found four bronze pans, gas line antifreeze and psuedoephedrine - all items used to make meth.

The arrests don't come as a shock to some who say the face of meth is becoming familiar.

"Pretty bad stories," said Grainger County resident LeVerne Atkins. "I work in a dental office. When they come in, we can recognize people on meth most of the time. Their teeth are all rotted, and they'll have sores on their face."

"You can see some of the problems with more crime in the area," resident Carrie Johnson said.

Sheriff Layel estimates about 85 percent of inmates in the county are facing drug charges. The four arrested this week appeared to be so dazed - they stole dog food from a nearby home. Layel says it doesn't make sense, but neither does meth.

"It's a problem all over East Tennessee," he said. "The drug culture seems to have embedded through generations and seems to be getting worse and worse."

But many in the community are hoping a new sheriff will change all of that soon.

According to Layel, the four have already posted bond and will be in court on Thursday.


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