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Jonesborough couple indicted on 145 meth charges

A grand jury indicted a Jonesborough couple late last month on a combined 145 charges related to the manufacture of methamphetamine.
After the grand jury returned true bills on Johnny and Jessica Barnett, both of 1532 Rocky Hollow Road, authorities arrested the pair on May 23.
Jessica Barnett faces 79 charges of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, one for each time she allegedly went into an area pharmacy to purchase pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient used in making meth.
Johnny Barnett faces 63 counts of promoting the manufacture of meth for each of the times he went into an area pharmacy and bought pseudoephedrine.
Between the two of them, the Barnetts visited four local pharmacies on more than 100 different days over a period of less than two-and-a-half years to obtain pseudoephedrine. On some of those days, they visited multiple pharmacies, according to the presentment filed in Washington County Criminal Court.
Between 2011 and April of this year, the Barnetts frequently visited Rite-Aid and Walgreens, both in Jonesborough; and CVS and Wal-mart, both on West Market Street in Johnson City, to obtain the meth ingredient.
On Sept. 12, 2012, Jonesborough police pulled over a vehicle being driven by Johnny Barnett.
“We had been watching them and had the opportunity to stop them that day,” said Maj. Natalie Hilton. “When they stopped his vehicle, he had a few things in there that led us to believe he was making meth.”
Authorities conducted a search of his then-home at Jackson Heights Apartments.
“We found shake-and-bake meth labs behind his unit and precursors used to make meth inside,” Hilton said.
Officers continued to monitor the statewide electronic system that tracks individuals buying pseudoephedrine at pharmacies to document the Barnetts’ actions.
The state has tracked pseudoephedrine sales since 2005 when the drug — used legally to treat symptoms of a common cold — was put behind pharmacy counters. Individuals are required to show identification and sign a log when buying the drug. Consumers are also limited as to how much they can buy at one time.
“We continued to track them even after the arrest in September,” Hilton said. “We could’ve indicted sooner, but we wanted to keep watching them.”
The couple took a short break from buying pseudoephedrine following their arrests in September 2012. Hilton said the time frame during which they stopped buying the drug coincides with the period of time they were behind bars at the Washington County Detention Center.
“They definitely continued to buy,” she said. “He actually bought some an hour before he was served with the indictment.”
In all, police documented the Barnetts purchasing 128 boxes of pseudoephedrine totaling more than 307 grams of the drug.
In addition to the 63 counts of promoting meth manufacture, the grand jury also indicted Johnny Barnett on two counts of initiating the process to manufacture meth stemming from the September 2012 run-in with police.
More charges could be coming for the pair, Hilton said.
The Barnetts were being held in the Washington County Detention Center, each on $75,000 bond.
It remains unclear whether the Barnetts were selling the meth they were allegedly making or using all of it themselves.
“It’s an awful lot for just personal use,” Hilton said. “But we never caught them selling it.”