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Yearlong meth investigation lands more than 50 people behind bars in Carter County

Authorities said they arrested 52 people and seized more than $31,000 worth of methamphetamine as part of "Operation: Sundown."

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WCYB) — Authorities arrested 52 people following a yearlong meth investigation in Carter County.

The Carter County Sheriff’s Office and Elizabethton Police Department Joint Drug Task Force conducted the investigation, which was known as "Operation: Sundown."

A grand jury initially indicted 44 suspects for conspiracy to sell or deliver methamphetamine, along with additional charges. Authorities then worked together in a roundup operation last week to arrest the majority of the indicted suspects, and made a few additional arrests along the way.

Authorities seized more than $31,000 worth of methamphetamine, as well as other drug assets including money and vehicles. They said they are still searching for six suspects in connection with the case.

The drug conspiracy charges carry minimum sentences of 15 years in prison. According to Sheriff Dexter Lunceford, such sentences will help disrupt the supply of methamphetamine in the county.

“We will never be able to completely stop all drug usage,” Lunceford said. “What we can do is disrupt the supply of illegal narcotics. This operation focused on arresting the meth dealers and their suppliers and preventing them from selling in future.”

In the past couple of years, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has said it is seeing methamphetamine making a rapid return in Tennessee. While local meth lab busts are down, the TBI said the recent rapid growth of meth crimes has largely been due to a growing rate of illegal drugs being trafficked into the state from across the Mexican border.

Authorities said the drug's resurgence has contributed to the alarming rise in suspected overdose deaths across the state alongside the opioid epidemic. 

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Lunceford added that information provided by citizens is important to these types of investigations, even if it takes some time for arrests to be made.

“The tips citizens send me are not always enough to make a complete case,” Lunceford said. “But we combine each bit of information we get in a computer system, and when we eventually have enough evidence for an arrest, those people will disappear quietly. So please continue to send us whatever information you can.”

The names six suspects who are still wanted are: Hayley Nicole Boyd, Kindra Lashae Campbell, Thomas Ray Cox Jr., Casilda Elizabeth Hernandez, John Andrew Register, and CW McCain Smith. If you have any information on the whereabouts of these suspects, you are asked to contact the Carter County Sheriff’s Office or Elizabethton Police Department.

Below is a list of all those charged along with the charges they face:

  • Osvaldo Aleman (46) – Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Kristin Dawn Bach (31) – Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Michael Paul Bailey (44) – Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Possessing a Firearm During Commission of a Felony, Unlawful Drug Paraphernalia, Manufacture, Delivery, or Sale of Methamphetamine
  • Melissa Rebecca Blackwell (46) – Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II (2x)
  • John Robert Blankenship (36) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Dave Charles Bowling (50) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II (2x), Violation of Probation
  • Christy Lynn Brandon (33) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II
  • Jeffrey Matthew Burchfield (27) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II (2x)
  • Angela Sue Campbell (45) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Schedule II Drug Violations (4x), Drug Free School Zone Enhancement
  • Misty Dawn Charlton (45) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II
  • Joshua Lee Cole (31) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Taylor Brooke Crowe (26) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Joshua Lee Curtis (28) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Dan Mass Digiacomo (29) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Samuel Lynn Drain (26) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Katie Nicole Gibson (34) – Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II (3x), Sale of Counterfeit Controlled Substance, Theft of Property $1,000 or Less
  • Tasha Nicole Hale (32) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Amy Christine Harper (41) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Steven Blake Bailey Heller (34) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Brandy Danyelle Hilton (37) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II in a Drug Free School Zone, Possession of Schedule II with Intent to Sell or Deliver, Possession of Schedule IV with Intent to Sell or Deliver, Maintaining a Dwelling Where Narcotics Are Sold, Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Dangerous Felony, Possession of a Firearm During Commission/Attempt to Commit a Felony, Unlawful Drug Paraphernalia, Manufacture, Sale, or Delivery of Schedule II
  • Shea Kristen Holly (30) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II
  • Brandon Keith Lewis (32) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Manufacture, Delivery, Sale, or Possession of Methamphetamine
  • Gregory Scott Mann (44) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II (3x)
  • Fabian Aundra Miller (29) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • James Terry Pierce (32) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Jonathan Robert Potter (27) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Nicholas Wayne Richardson - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Jared Cameron Shepardson (34) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Possession of Schedule II with Intent to Sell or Deliver, Maintaining Dwelling Where Narcotics Are Sold
  • Hutch Freddie Lee Sims (21) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Larry Edward Stapleton Jr. (27) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II (2x), Drug Free School Zone Enhancement, Promotion of Manufacture, Sale, or Delivery of Methamphetamine
  • Dana Nichole Starnes (39) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II
  • Richard Alan Stout (41) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II (2x)
  • Melissa Dawn Stout (51) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Sale of Schedule II
  • Taylor Lashae Vestal (21) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Michael Shane Walker (34) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver
  • Shannon Glenn Warren (40) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Possessing a Firearm During Commission/Attempt to Commit a Felony, Simple Possession/Casual Exchange, Unlawful Drug Paraphernalia, Fabricating/Tampering with Evidence, Unlawful Possession without a Prescription, Schedule I Drug Violations, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Manufacture, Delivery, or Sale of Meth
  • Brandy Nicole Wellman (33) - Conspiracy to Possess Meth 300 G. or More w/ Intent to Sell or Deliver, Manufacture, Delivery, or Sale of Methamphetamine