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September 17, 2012

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


Major Methamphetamine Manufacturing Conspiracy Members Arrested By Local State And Federal Law Enforcement

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - A federal grand jury in Greeneville returned a 16-count indictment on September 11, 2012, charging 21 individuals operating in communities throughout northeast Tennessee, with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine; distribution of methamphetamine; possession of equipment, chemicals, and materials for manufacturing methamphetamine; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Those indicted include:

Joseph Bob Banner, 33, Erwin, Tenn.;Brandon Michael Beals, 21, Erwin, Tenn.;Robert Charles Bennett, 35, Johnson City, Tenn.; Stacy Glen Black, 41, Erwin, Tenn.; Jason Anthony Briggs, 33, Flag Pond, Tenn.; Jeffrey Ray Casey, 33, Washington County, Tenn.; Clinton Cody Cooper, 26, Erwin, Tenn.; Lisa Engle Effler, 41, Erwin, Tenn.; Ray Charles English, 20, Erwin, Tenn.; Timothy Shaun Franklin, 34, Erwin, Tenn.' David Edward Gardner, 51, Unicoi, Tenn.; Donnie Lynn Hensley, 39, Erwin, Tenn.; Jarrod Allen Hicks, 31, Unicoi, Tenn.; Jerry Wayne Howell, 45, Erwin, Tenn.; Autumn Michelle McKinney, 25, Elizabethton, Tenn.; Samuel McCoy Sanders, III., 35, Jonesborough, Tenn.; Brian Stacey Smith, 39, Johnson City, Tenn.; Daniel Scott Smith, 38, Erwin, Tenn.; Michael Travis Smith, 37, Erwin, Tenn.; George Richard Thomas, Jr., 29, Erwin, Tenn.; Spencer Jay Yates, 35, Jonesborough, Tenn.;

Local, state, and federal law enforcement agents, executed arrest warrants early on September 17, 2012, and took many of these individuals into custody. Those apprehended made their initial appearance on September 17, 2012 in U.S. District Court before the Honorable Dennis H. Inman, U.S. Magistrate Judge. More arrests are expected.

If convicted, the individuals charged with manufacturing and distribution conspiracies face a minimum term of 10 years, up to life, in prison, a $10,000,000.00 fine, and at least five years of supervised release. Those charged with distribution of methamphetamine face a term of not more than 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000.00 find, and at least three years of supervised release. Individuals charged with possession of equipment, chemicals, or materials for manufacturing methamphetamine face a term of not more than 20 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000.00, and at least three years supervised release. Those charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime face a mandatory five year prison sentence to run consecutively to the sentence for the underlying drug offense.

This indictment was the result of an ongoing, intensive, and coordinated multi-agency investigation designed to combat a growing problem of “one pot” or “shake and bake” methamphetamine manufacturing rings operating in communities in northeast Tennessee. This collaborative investigation was led by law enforcement officers with the Erwin Tennessee Police Department, Unicoi County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force, and Drug Enforcement Administration with additional agencies providing critical support, intelligence, and expertise. Agencies providing valuable assistance during the investigation include the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Kingsport Tennessee Police Department, Johnson City Tennessee Police Department, Elizabethton Tennessee Police Department, Tennessee National Guard Intelligence Group, Greene County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Third Judicial District Drug Task Force, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Office of District Attorney General Tony Clark. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Christian Lampe will represent the United States in this prosecution.

This prosecution is brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s commitment to combine the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies with that of state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the cooperative effort is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug manufacturing and trafficking organizations and those primarily responsible for the supply of drugs throughout the nation and the effected communities.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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