JUNE 19 (ASHEVILLE, N.C.) – A criminal indictment charging seven defendants with drug trafficking conspiracy and related charges was unsealed today in U.S. District court, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. The federal indictment was returned by a grand jury sitting in Asheville on June 4, 2013, and remained sealed until today, following yesterday’s arrests of the named defendants by law enforcement.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Harry S. Sommers, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office; Jason O’Neal, Deputy Associate Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Division of Drug Enforcement; Wayne L. Dixie, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division; Chief Ben Reed of the Cherokee Indian Police Department; Sheriff Curtis Cochran of the Swain County Sheriff’s Office; Sheriff Mickey Anderson of the Graham County Sheriff’s Office; Sheriff Greg Christopher of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office; and Sheriff Jimmy Ashe of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
The indictment is the result of a large scale two-year joint federal, tribal and state investigation targeting the distribution of narcotics, with a focus on prescription drugs, on and around the Cherokee Indian Reservation.
The defendants named in the indictment are charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, including oxycodone, cocaine, marijuana and alprazolam. According to the indictment, the alleged conduct took place between January 2007 and December 2012 in Swain and Jackson Counties. Those charged are:
Jackie Lee Rattler, 54, of Cherokee, N.C.
Jacob Hunter Rattler, 21, of Cherokee.
Evan Thomas Norris, Jr., 54, of Robbinsville, N.C.
Taryn Krista Elizabeth Toineeta Rattler, 25, of Cherokee.
Timothy Leroy Rattler, 50, of Cherokee.
Justina Nacole Rattler, 31, of Cherokee.
Mark Allen Winstead, 26, of Cherokee.
Jackie Lee Rattler also faces six additional counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, and one count of being a controlled substance user in possession of firearms. Jacob Hunter Rattler is also charged with one additional count of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance.
The indictment includes a notice of forfeiture, which gives notice that the defendants must forfeit to the United States all of the property and currency involved in the offenses charged in the indictment, and all property and currency which are proceeds of such offenses, including approximately $48,900 in cash, 44 firearms, three vehicles and two Harley Davidson motorcycles seized during the course of the investigation.
Six of the seven defendants charged in the indictment are in custody. Taryn Rattler remains a fugitive. Those arrested will remain in custody pending their detention hearings, which have been scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2013. Each drug offense carries a maximum prison term of 20 years, a $1 million fine, or both. The user of narcotics in possession of firearms offense carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, a $250,000 fine, or both.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Tribal and state law enforcement officers have arrested and charged more than 25 defendants on tribal and state drug offenses.
Those facing tribal drug charges are: Deborah Smith, Charles Taylor, Austin Gunter, Humberto Corral, Deanna Smith (not arrested), Kevin Smith, Shenna Crowe, Lisa Toineeta, Sam Thompson, Mike Walkingstick (not arrested), Annie Cucumber, Robert Tramper, Ashley Keel (not arrested), Chadwick Feather, Walter Bradley, Thomas Rickman, Victoria Cucumber (not arrested), Delores Cabrera, Sally Bryson, Raymond Whitecotton, Rachel Taylor and Regan Parton.
Those facing state drug charges are: Alea Ohmart, James Murphy, Ceegee Bird (not arrested), Clyde Taylor, Rogelio Cabrera, Eric Dossett, Anthony Dossett (not arrested), Frankie Dyer and Christin Hodgins (Not arrested).
U.S. Attorney Tompkins thanked all the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation for their continued cooperation and assistance. The prosecution for the case is handled by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pritchard, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville.The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.