The Knox County Sheriff's Office raided a North Knox County home off Emory Road Tuesday morning after a man allegedly accepted EBT cards in exchange for cash or heroin.
Deputies arrested James Hampton Jr., 52, at a home on the 8300 block of Lake Village Circle.
Hampton was arrested on 21 warrants for theft, sale and delivery of Schedule 1 drugs (heroin), food stamp fraud, ID theft, and computer crimes, according to investigators.
According to Chief Deputy Lee Tramel, Hampton was using a business, Volunteer Meat and Seafood, as a front to buy EBT or food stamp cards.
The sheriff's office said Hampton had an EBT card reader in a van, he would swipe the card and if there was $500 on it, he'd split the money with the person bringing him the card. There were no records that he was actually selling any meat or seafood.
He would also swipe cards and take the money to supply heroin, Tramel said. The sheriff's office said some people may have swiped cards with him to buy items they couldn't buy with EBT cards but not necessarily drugs.
Hampton allegedly traded those cards for drugs and cash. According to Tramel, the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.
“We believe if we can cut the addiction in our community, we can absolutely cut the crime rate,” Tramel said.
The Organized Retail Crime Unit treats cases like this like drug cases because more and more people that are being arrested for these crimes have a drug problem, they want to get off the streets, and want to get clean, Tramel said.