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Press Release

Five Defendants in Methamphetamine Distribution Conspiracy

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

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – During the week of May 21, 2018, five defendants in an east Tennessee methamphetamine (meth) conspiracy were sentenced by the Honorable R. Leon Jordan, Senior, U.S. District Court Judge to serve time in federal prison.  James Dwayne Byington, 50, Rogersville, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 210 months.  Edward Smith, 52, Rogersville, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 70 months.  Frankie Benton, 34, Bulls Gap, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 188 months. Clay Seals, Jr., Surgoinsville, Tennessee was sentenced to serve 120 months. Curtis Carpenter, 43, of Whitesburg, Tennessee, was sentenced to serve 172 months.

In 2016, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working together began an investigation into an evolving meth distribution network that was distributing multiple kilogram quantities of meth in and around Hawkins County, Tennessee.  David Jones, 61, who lived in Chatsworth, Georgia, supplied this organization with kilograms of meth that were distributed by members of the conspiracy, most of whom were from Hawkins County, Tennessee.  Jones was sentenced in April 2018 to serve 180 months in federal prison.

The convictions of Byington, Smith, Carpenter, Benton, and Seals are the result of a 49-count indictment that also charged the following individuals for their roles in the conspiracy:

  • David Jones, 61, of Chatsworth, Georgia;
  • Jonathan Delph, 51, of Rogersville, Tennessee;
  • Stephanie Bailey, 50, of Hawkins County, Tennessee;
  • Donna Strong, 54, a/k/a Donna Dunbar, of Surgoinsville, Tennessee;
  • Jerry Robinette, 48, of Rogersville, Tennessee;
  • Tyler Delph, 25, of Rogersville, Tennessee;
  • Scottie Delph, 49, of Rogersville, Tennessee;
  • James Michael Whitaker, 55, of Rogersville, Tennessee;
  • Paul Bledsoe Jr., 44, of Morristown, Tennessee
  • William West, 58, a/k/a Bump, of Rogersville, Tennessee;
  • Leonard Brad Eidson, 43, of Bull’s Gap, Tennessee
  • Phillip Burton, 49, a/k/a Burger, of Rogersville, Tennessee; and
  • Toby Jones, 40, of Chatsworth, Georgia;

All of the individuals charged in this case have been convicted of conspiring to distribute meth.  Many have already been sentenced in U.S. District Court and the remainder are scheduled to be sentenced between now and June 12, 2018.        

The ongoing investigation leading to the indictment was the product of a partnership between Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department, Third Judicial Drug Task Force, Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area - Rocky Top Task Force, Third Judicial District Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Christian Lampe represents the United States in court proceedings.  

The investigation is a result of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.




Sharry Dedman-Beard
Public Information Officer

Updated May 24, 2018

Drug Trafficking