Crimetracker: drug roundup in Claiborne County


NEW TAZEWELL, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Several law enforcement agencies teamed round up a number of suspects identified during a lengthy, undercover investigation, the Claiborne Co. Sheriff's Office announced on Friday.

Deputies found Christopher Atkins at home. He tried to get away, but didn't get far. He's charged with selling and delivering pain pills in a drug-free school zone. During the arrest, authorities discovered a needle in his pocket. Sheriff David Ray said the county takes drugs very seriously.

"We're going to continue to go after those people who are illegally distributing, selling, transporting narcotics," said Sheriff Ray.

Authorities worked in teams to round up the more than 40 people recently indicted on drug charges.

"We're headed to Harrigate to serve six indictments," said Sergeant Bill Baumgardner, with the Claiborne County Sheriff's Office.

Many of the suspects are charged with dealing prescription pills, including Danny Patterson. He said he's innocent.

"I drive a truck 34 years and just got my disability and so just trying to make it on $710 a month is hard to do," said Patterson.

Deputies found Melinda Taylor at work. She was indicted on four drug charges. Officers also found four hydrocodone pills on her during her arrest.

The Sheriff said pain pills are a big problem in Claiborne County.

"We still have a lot of people going to pain clinics, locally or out of town and different places and not using them as prescribed, Selling them and trading them," said Ray.

But Ray said whether it's pills, meth, heroin or anything else - if you're involved with drugs, you will be caught:

"We're going after every drug dealer in this county -we're going to prosecute them. So it's just a matter of time," said Ray.

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Several law enforcement agencies teamed round up a number of suspects identified during a lengthy, undercover investigation, the Claiborne Co. Sheriff's Office announced on Friday.

According to Claiborne Co. Sheriff David Ray, narcotics officers in his department presented over 49 cases to the Grand Jury on Wednesday, which resulted in sealed indictments against the suspects.

The round up began early Friday morning. And Sheriff Ray warned they're not done yet.

"This is an ongoing investigation and more indictments and arrest (sic) are expected,” said Ray.

The suspects are being held on preset bonds, ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. They are scheduled to appear in court on November 12, 2013.

New Tazewell Police Department, Tazewell Police Department, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Highway Patrol, 8th Judicial District Drug Task Force and Knoxville Police Department joined in the effort, Sheriff Ray said.


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