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Meth ring bust yields nearly 60 indictments

According to Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal, an ongoing collaboration between area law enforcement officials has resulted in the conviction in a methamphetamine conspiracy of nearly 57 defendants with the possible subsequent federal sentence of more than 300 years.
The arrest, prosecution and convictions involved the work of Erwin and Unicoi County investigators working with the Washington County Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force Officer and assisted by: 1st Judicial Drug Task Force, Carter County Sheriff’s Office, Elizabethton Police Department, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Johnson City Police Department, Kingsport Police Department, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The methamphetamine manufacturing conspiracy, which involved multiple cells, began with an investigation in 2010 on Bill Jones Road in Washington County, but continued to include areas of Sulphur Springs, Telford, Limestone, Jonesborough, Johnson City, Elizabethton, Erwin and Unicoi County as well as areas in North Carolina.
According to Graybeal, inter-agency cooperation is a necessity in these types of investigations due to numerous individuals who cross county/state lines in order to procure meth lab precursors used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
The last individual in this conspiracy was sentenced earlier this month.
More than 30 methamphetamine labs were encountered during the investigation. Due to the risk involved with meth labs and the unpredictability of the individuals who cook and use methamphetamine, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics Team was also utilized to serve a portion of the arrest warrants.
Several of the defendants had criminal history prior to the investigation.
In further information provided by the Sheriff’s Office:
Meth labs worked inside Washington County by Washington County investigators (including one inside Jonesborough town limits) totaled seven to date in 2014.
The number of labs was down from last year’s total of 27 worked by Washington County.
Total number of meth labs in Washington County in 2014, to date, was 32 — down from 43 in in 2013.
Eleven of the meth labs discovered by Washington County Sheriff’s Office during the 2013-2014 time period are due to proactive investigations rather than just merely responding to reports of meth labs found.
Upon arrest and interview of defendants, more leads are often developed which leads to ongoing methamphetamine conspiracy investigations. It is not unusual to find that one meth cook teaches 10 others to cook, thereby spreading the methamphetamine lab problem to epidemic proportions if not kept in check by law enforcement actions.
Anyone having any knowledge of a methamphetamine lab is asked to contact your local law enforcement agency.
If any item is found that is believed to be a one pot meth lab or a chemical used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, you are asked not to touch it, as a slight disturbance is sometimes all that is needed to cause a chemical reaction that could result in death or serious bodily injury.