Kingsport Resident Sentenced to 188 Months on Marijuana Conspiracy, Firearms, and Money Laundering Charges
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On November 15, 2018, Christopher Scott Burchett, 36, of Kingsport, Tennessee, was sentenced by the Honorable Pamela L. Reeves, U.S. District Court Judge, to serve 188 months in federal prison. Burchett was convicted for his role in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and a conspiracy to commit money laundering in east Tennessee.
According to the plea agreement on file with the U.S. District Court, Burchett admitted to being responsible for at least 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. He obtained large quantities of marijuana from numerous sources of supply in Oregon and California, which were then re-distributed to customers in east Tennessee. In order to run this organization, Burchett recruited and employed numerous co-conspirators to make trips to Oregon with large sums of cash, obtain the marijuana, and transport it back to east Tennessee for resale. Burchett paid these individuals up to $10,000.00 per trip. The marijuana would often be contained in hidden locations in vehicles to avoid detection from law enforcement officers. Upon returning to the Kingsport area, Burchett had other co-conspirators ready to unload and store the marijuana until it could be divided up and sold by him and others working on his behalf. In addition to marijuana, Burchett also obtained Butane Honey Oil (BHO or hashish oil) from sources in Oregon that was transported back to east Tennessee and resold for profit. He further engaged in financial transactions involving the proceeds of the illegal distribution of marijuana, which included bulk currency shipments, the acquisition of vehicles and firearms and the transfer of real property.
One of Burchett’s co-defendants, Chad Allen Dorton, 35, of Kingsport, Tennessee, proceeded to trial in September 2017. Evidence and testimony introduced at trial showed the conspirators purchased, transported, and distributed 2500 to 3700 lbs. of marijuana during the conspiracy period, with a street value of $12 - $18 million. All of the drugs were distributed in Kingsport and surrounding areas. Following the trial, Dorton was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. He was sentenced on December 4, 2017, to serve 168 months in federal prison.
Law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Second Judicial Drug Task Force, Sullivan County Sherriff’s Office, Kingsport Police Department, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, and the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement of Josephine County, Oregon. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wayne Taylor, David L. Gunn and T.J. Harker represented the United States.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.