Cash, drugs seized from West Knoxville storage unit

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- Two assault rifles, 40 pounds of pot and so many twenties, fifties and hundred dollar bills they needed an electric sorter to count them all!

Credit three police agencies, and a drug dog's sharp nose for the Knox County bust.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd says the leg-work has just begun.

Sheriff Jones says they found the stash in a storage unit in West Knox County.

He won't say where.

In part because deputies are checking other storage units, looking for more.

Why?

He won't say.

Such is the nature of undercover work.

Such can be fodder during election years.

Jimmy "JJ" Jones, the Knox County Sheriff, "the marijuana is not really a high grade of marijuana."

Knox County's sheriff says judge this bust not by the quality of weed but the quantity of cash.

Almost 194 grand.

Jones says, "at one point in time, somebody sold a lot of drugs."

Who that somebody is, isn't clear.

Nobody's under arrest yet.

Randy Tyree, the candidate for Knox County Sheriff says, "that was what we call in this business, a lucky hit. That was not developed out of an undercover operation."

The sheriff says it came out of four or five months undercover, but he won't get into specifics.

Opponent Randy Tyree though, insists law enforcement has lost some of its edge since the sheriff's department and Knoxville police dissolved the Metro narcotics unit 11 years ago.

"You've gotta have more of a focus on the enforcement angle, rather than letting things slide."

We may be seeing fewer headline grabbers, such as the infamous Motel 6 Meth Bust two and a half years ago.

But enforcers say that the drug trade itself may be changing.

Jones says, "73 percent of all crimes committed in Tennessee are drug-related. It's not something that's going away, but we believe we have a pretty good handle on it."

Beyond the half-dozen DARE officers, Knox County's drug war has few public faces.

Sheriff Jones won't even say how large his narcotics unit is, except that its county budget is about 327 grand, and federal grants cover about 24,000 in overtime.

"My background is in enforcement, and that's where you really need to bring the hammer down."

But how?

Do you define enforcement by how many you arrest, or how much dope and cash seized?

Each of the past two years, the sheriff's office has averaged more than 300 in asset forfeitures, drug loot, returned to Knox County.

Knox county will split some of the cash from this haul with Clinton police, and the Loudon County Sheriff's office, for helping the investigation.

Sheriff Jones says the drug fighting strategy needs no major changes.

Tyree says he wouldn't know how to beef up enforcement until he could study the department's budget, in detail, after he's elected.


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