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Press Release

Oraine Christie Convicted Of Drug Trafficking And Firearms Charges

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

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On January 29, following a three-day trial in United States District Court, Knoxville, Tennessee, a jury convicted Oraine Christie, 44, of Massachusetts, of drug trafficking and firearms charges relating to a traffic stop conducted by the Knoxville Police Department’s drug interdiction team, on December 1, 2021. 

Christie will be sentenced by the Honorable Judge Katherine C. Crytzer at a later date.  Christie faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of life, fines, and a term of supervised release of at least five years.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Oraine Christie, the driver of a Chevy Trailblazer, and co-conspirator Shemar Newland, the passenger, were transporting 3.5 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and six firearms, including a stolen Smith & Wesson revolver and a PA-15 assault rifle when they were stopped after committing a traffic violation on Highway 640.  An investigation revealed that the pair were heading back to Atlanta with the guns and drugs after failing to sell the drugs in West Virginia, as initially planned.  Testimony at trial revealed that Newland obtained the drugs from an individual in Atlanta and Christie conspired with Newland to sell the drugs to Christie’s associate in West Virginia.

Newland pleaded guilty on July 14, 2022, and his sentencing is set for February 8, 2023, before Judge Crytzer, in the United States District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III of the Eastern District of Tennessee made the announcement.

Law enforcement agencies participating in the joint investigation which led to the indictment and subsequent convictions included the Knoxville Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anne-Marie Svolto and Brian Samuelson represented the United States at trial.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a comprehensive national strategy that creates local partnerships with law enforcement agencies to effectively enforce existing gun laws. It provides more options to prosecutors, allowing them to utilize local, state, and federal laws to ensure that criminals who commit gun crime face tough sentences. PSN gives each federal district the flexibility it needs to focus on individual challenges that a specific community face.



Rachelle Barnes
Public Affairs Officer
(865) 545-4167

Updated January 30, 2024

Project Safe Neighborhoods