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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Shelby County, Tennessee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force Receives National Recognition

Memphis, Tenn. – White House Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli has awarded the Shelby County, TN High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA) Task Force the 2014 national award for Outstanding Prescription Drug Investigative Effort, announced Edward L. Stanton III, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee; and Brian Chambers, Resident Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration – Memphis Resident Office.

Receiving the award at last week’s ceremony in Washington, DC were members of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Memphis Resident Office; Shelby County Sheriff’s Office; Memphis Police Department; and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee. These law enforcement officials were recognized for their joint work in a multi-state prescription drug investigation that led to the arrest of 56 individuals in Los Angeles, California; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee.

United States Attorney Stanton, who has served on the Executive Board of Directors for the Gulf Coast HIDTA since 2010, congratulated the Shelby County HIDTA Task Force on receiving this national recognition and prestigious award. “Close collaboration with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners is critical to dismantling drug trafficking rings at the highest levels and ridding our communities of the drugs and violence associated with these dangerous organizations. This well-deserved award is a true testament to the outstanding work of a team of dedicated professionals committed to combatting the drug trade throughout west Tennessee and beyond,” United States Attorney Stanton said.

Disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations is fundamental to the mission of the Gulf Coast HIDTA. In furtherance of this goal, members of the Shelby County HIDTA Task Force initiated a two-year investigation on two separate drug trafficking organizations operating in the Gulf Coast HIDTA area. These drug trafficking organizations were responsible for distributing large amounts of Dilaudid and oxycodone pills, which are narcotic pain relievers. During this investigation, intelligence gathered from intercepted calls and defendant interviews demonstrated that these drug trafficking organizations were distributing 250,000 oxycodone and Dilaudid pills annually. The investigation resulted in the dismantlement of these drug trafficking United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton III Western District of Tennessee organizations and the arrest of 56 individuals on federal and state charges. Fourteen individuals were indicted federally, and 27 were indicted in state court in Tennessee. Also, based on additional information provided to the Drug Enforcement Administration in Little Rock, 15 people were indicted on federal charges.

In total, 56 individuals were arrested in this multijurisdictional investigation. Agents in Tennessee seized 1,282 oxycodone pills, 990 Dilaudid pills, 1,704 hydrocodone pills, 476 alprazolam pills, 313 Adderall pills, and 375 Dexedrine pills. Agents also seized $46,281 in U.S. currency, $231,269.82 in financial instruments, and three residences (valued at $300,000) in Terrell, Texas.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy’s HIDTA program provides federal resources to designated areas to help reduce drug trafficking and its harmful consequences. Law enforcement organizations within HIDTAs assess drug-trafficking problems and design specific initiatives to decrease the production, manufacture, transportation, distribution, and chronic use of drugs and money laundering. The HIDTA program plays a vital role in making the nation safer and healthier by reducing drug use and its consequences. There are currently 28 HIDTAs, which include approximately 16 percent of all counties in the United States and 60 percent of the U.S. population. HIDTA-designated counties are located in 46 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

United States Attorney Stanton also commended the agencies that comprise the Shelby County, TN HIDTA Task Force for their efforts in securing the award and for the overall success of the HIDTA program. These agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration – Memphis Resident Office; Memphis Police Department; Shelby County Sheriff’s Office; Millington Police Department; Bartlett Police Department; Germantown Police Department; Collierville Police Department; Tipton County Sheriff’s Department; the Attorney General’s Office for the 25th Judicial District; and the Attorney General’s Office for the 30th Judicial District.

Pictured below are the following individuals from the Shelby County, TN HIDTA Task Force who attended the National HIDTA Awards Banquet in Washington, DC on February 5, 2015. They are from left to right:

Front Row (L to R): Tony Soto, Director – Gulf Coast HIDTA; Michael Botticelli, Director – Office of National Drug Control Policy; Brian Chambers, Resident Agent in Charge – DEA; Mary Lou Leary, Deputy Director – Office of National Drug Control Policy; Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney – U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Back Row (L to R): Lt. Robert McIntyre – Memphis Police Dept.; Garrison Taylor, Task Force Officer – DEA; Mark Dunbar, Asst. Chief – Shelby Co. Sheriff’s Office; Ian James, Detective – Memphis Police Dept.; Colonel Ralph Gary – Memphis Police Dept.; William Cash, Chief Deputy – Shelby Co. Sheriff’s Office; Michael Jackson, Detective – Memphis Police Dept.; William J. Renton, Jr., Deputy Director – Gulf Coast HIDTA; Tyler Gustafson, Special Agent – DEA; Michelle Parks, AUSA – U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Updated April 21, 2015