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Press Release

Charles Phelps, Member Of A Prison Gang, Sentenced To 156 Month For Conspiracy To Distribute Methamphetamine

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Tennessee

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On March 14, 2022, Charles Phelps, 36, currently of Nashville, Tennessee, was sentenced to 156 months by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville.

As part of the plea agreement filed with the court, Phelps pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with one count of Conspiracy to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Actual Methamphetamine, U.S.C. 21 U.S.C. § § 846, 841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(A). Following his release from prison, Phelps will be on supervised release for five years.

According to the written plea agreement filed with the court, Phelps, a member of a prison gang led by co-defendant Charles Elsea, Jr., conspired with gang members and others to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine into Tennessee. One of Phelps’ roles was collecting and delivering money for the organization. On February 16, 2020, Phelps was traffic stopped with $119,000 in cash, concealed in the spare tire of his vehicle. The money was being transported out west to purchase pounds of methamphetamine. The money was seized by local law enforcement during the traffic stop. The investigation spanned the country, with multiple local and federal agencies working together to identify persons involved.

The criminal indictment was the result of an investigation by the DHS-HSI, DEA, USPS, and with the assistance of Tennessee Department of Correction Office of Investigations and Conduct; Elizabethton, and Carter County Joint Drug Task Force; Huron Undercover Narcotic Team with the Michigan State Police; the Arkansas Highway Patrol; Missouri Western Interdiction Task Force with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department; California Visalia Police Department. This investigation was led by HSI Special Agent John Bulla.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meghan L. Gomez represented the United States at sentencing.

This investigation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.



Rachelle Barnes
Public Affairs Officer
(865) 545-4167

Updated March 16, 2022

Drug Trafficking