Hamblen authorities fight growing out-of-state drug problem

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HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A new, more powerful kind of meth has Hamblen County authorities concerned.

They found some of it this week, when they busted a meth operation discovered in a shed.

The Sheriff's Office arrested 36-year-old John Russell for possessing and selling the meth.

An anonymous tip led deputies to Russell's house on Witt Road. He gave investigators permission to check the shed out back. That's when they found scales, little plastic baggies and about half an ounce of crystal meth, according to an arrest warrant.

"They had plastic baggies there that we believe is for resale," HCSO spokesperson Carrie McCann, said. "They had little smiley faces on them, so we worry about that sort of thing with our children in the area."

McCann said this kind of meth is a higher, stronger quality. And they don't think it's being made here.

"As we crack down on the local pill mills, as well as the meth making facilities and the ingredients they need to buy for that, then someone's gonna come in and fill that gap," she said. "We don't want to have this void filled with a worse type of drug, like heroin or crystal meth, and we're afraid that's what's going to happen."

Russell has a long criminal history of drug dealing, going back to 2002. They hope this arrest will help to put a dent in the bigger problem.

"If people see that in their area, they need to contact their local law enforcement, give them that address, so they can start that investigation," McCann said.

The Sheriff's Office says this type of meth costs around $120 a gram, and they seized 13 grams during this bust -- which means they took more than $1,500 of crystal meth off the streets.

Authorities are worried that as harder drugs move through the area, they'll see more deaths from overdosing.

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