You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Tennessee

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Federal Fugitive Arrested In Cumberland County, Tennessee After 5 Years On The Run

Defendant Disappeared During Trial And Was Convicted In Absentia

Ronald Eli Lewis, 72, of Sparta, Tenn., was arrested by U.S. Marshals and TBI agents this morning in Cumberland County, Tenn., announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith of the Middle District of Tennessee.


Lewis and his cousin, Clifford Lewis, were convicted in March 2012 of conspiring to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana throughout Middle Tennessee. The verdicts stem from the attempted delivery of nearly 900 pounds of marijuana to the Lewis’ family farm in Sparta, Tennessee on March 28, 2007. Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had tracked the marijuana to the farm, where the defendants were arrested as they began to unload it. The jury heard evidence that the delivery was part of a larger scheme to ship thousands of pounds of marijuana via tractor trailer from Texas to Tennessee.


A few days after the trial began in March 2012, Ronald Lewis, who was free on bond, failed to show for the remainder of the trial. Lewis was subsequently convicted in absentia. His cousin, Clifford, was also convicted and later sentenced to prison. Two other co-defendants, Jimmy Clinton Smith, of Texas and Eliseo Gavin, of Oklahoma, had previously pleaded guilty and were later sentenced to prison.


“I join with the leadership of our law enforcement partners in commending the outstanding work of the U.S. Marshals’ Service and the TBI for the capture of Ronald Lewis,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith. “This district is fortunate to have the dedicated professionals of these agencies. Because of their efforts and their careful planning and execution of this operation, a dangerous fugitive is back in custody and his freedom to scoff at the justice system has come to an abrupt end.”


The investigation into the drug distribution conspiracy was conducted by the DEA and the TBI. The fugitive investigation was conducted by the U.S. Marshals’ Joint Fugitive Task Force.

Drug Trafficking
David Boling Public Information Officer 615-736-5956
Updated July 26, 2017