By Kayla Carter
Fifteen of 21 individuals indicted last week on federal drug-related charges are from Unicoi County, according to a press release from US Attorney William C. Killians office.
The release states that a 16-count indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury on Sept. 11, charging 21 individuals from Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties in what the release called a major methamphetamine manufacturing conspiracy.
According to the release, Unicoi County residents indicted included: Joseph Bob Banner, 33, of Erwin; Brandon Michael Beals, 21, of Erwin; Stacy Glen Black, 41, of Erwin; Jason Anthony Briggs, 33, of Flag Pond; Clinton Cody Cooper, 26, of Erwin; Lisa Engle Effler, 41, of Erwin; Ray Charles English, 20, of Erwin; Timothy Shaun Franklin, 34, of Erwin; David Edward Gardner, 51, of Unicoi; Donnie Lynn Hensley, 39, of Erwin; Jarrod Allen Hicks, 31, of Unicoi; Jerry Wayne Howell, 45, of Erwin; Daniel Scott Smith, 38, of Erwin; Michael Travis Smith, 37, of Erwin; and George Richard Thomas Jr., 29, of Erwin.
Other individuals indicted were: Robert Charles Bennett, 35, of Johnson City; Jeffrey Ray Casey, 33, of Washington County; Autumn Michelle McKinney, 25, of Elizabethton; Samuel McCoy Sanders III, 35, of Jonesborough; Brian Stacey Smith, 39, of Johnson City; and Spencer Jay Yates, 35, of Jonesborough.
The press release did not specify what additional charges, if any, each individual faced, but in an email, US Assistant Attorney Christian Lampe said they were all charged with conspiracy to manufacture.
Local, state, and federal law enforcement agents, executed arrest warrants early on September 17, 2012, and took many of these individuals into custody. Those apprehended made their initial appearance on September 17, 2012, in U.S. District Court before the Honorable Dennis H. Inman, U.S. Magistrate Judge, the release states.
Charges were the result of a multi-agency investigation into shake and bake methamphetamine manufacturing conspiracy rings, the release states.
The release said the investigation was led by law enforcement officers from the Erwin Police Department, the Unicoi County Sheriffs Department, the Washington County Sheriffs Office, the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Administration. A half-dozen other agencies also provided assistance.
By Kayla Carter