East Tennessee Losing War on Drugs

Introduction by Lewis Loflin

January 16th, 2014 Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announces another new meth policy. To quote, "proposed what he calls a compromise solution to the tug-of-war over whether cold medicines containing a key ingredient in methamphetamine should be sold by prescription only. Haslam's solution, announced in a Nashville news conference, is to allow purchases of small amounts of such medicines under current rules but require prescriptions for larger amounts."

But back in 2006 they noted tons of drugs are hauled into the region from illegal alien communities in Johnson City and Hamblen County. They doesn't even count prescription drug abuse. In 2014 they are still losing until the deal with the social problems that afflict this region - mass poverty - lack of jobs - lack of drug treatment.

The age spread for drug dealers runs about even for 20s, 30s, 40s. Most seem to be repeat offenders, and the most troubling aspects is many will have/had children and due to having a drug record, will be unemployable. (If they ever worked anyway.) Tennessee is putting in a public access meth directory listing those involved in drugs, a sure way to make sure they stay unemployable. That's a sure way to bet they will engage in more crime.

One study I did named 47 people in a drug bust ranging in ages from 19 to 71, which the ages for 39 was stated. This included one 19-year-old, eight in their 20s, twelve in their 30s, ten in their 40s, six in their 50s, one 64, the last at 71. The average age was 38.5 years, and is heavily clustered in the 30s and 40s, the age range heavily impacted by job loses since 2001. The articles didn't state if they users were paying for the next fix, or just in it for the money. This was just in Lee and Scott Counties, and one bust in Kingsport.

Another 39 busted

In an updated example we have the following: Bristol TN Police, Criminal Investigations Division, the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department, and Second Judicial District Drug Task Force, nailed 39 people on more than 200 counts including: sale of a controlled substance, delivery of a controlled substance and sale of a controlled substance within a 1000' of a school, etc. 15 of the 39 people have been arrested as of Dec. 16. Only 25 of the 39 are listed:

Arrested thus far (names withheld by this website):

B/F, 31 yoa, resident of Sullivan County
B/M, 35 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
B/M, 21 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
W/M, 48 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
B/M, 21 yoa, resident of Bristol, VA
B/M, 26 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
W/M, 55 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
B/F, 43 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
W/M, 53 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
B/F, 44 yoa, resident of Bristol, VA
B/M, 49 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
W/M, 28 yoa, resident of Sullivan County
B/M, 38 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
W/F, 24 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
B/M, 38 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN

Average age, 37. 10 black, 5 white. Unserved indictments on the following people:

B/M, 45 yoa, resident of Bristol, VA
B/M, 28 yoa, resident of Johnson City, TN
B/M, 20 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
W/M, 35 yoa, resident of Wytheville, VA
B/M, age unknown, resident of Columbia, SC
B/F, 45 yoa, resident of Bristol, VA
W/F, 27 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN
W/F, 40 yoa, resident of Bristol, VA
W/M, 30 yoa, resident of Sullivan County
W/M, 48 yoa, resident of Bristol, TN

Average age, 35 minus one unknown. 5 black, 5 white. Bristol, Tennessee's black population is under 3%. (Wiki) Ref. December 16, 2008 BHC. Here it seems a little younger in average age than earlier busts. That could be a bad sign that they may have more young children.

The meth war has had somewhat of a victory. Both Virginia and Tennessee have restricted the sale of pseudoephedrine cold medications, knocking the bottom out of mom and pop home meth labs. The result is less children ending up in foster care when they raid homes, but other drugs show up to replace the meth. Their children will be very likely end up like their parents. As harsh as it may sound, the only real way to deal with this issue is to stop another generation of abusers and users is to terminate all parental rights on the first conviction. Mandate stiff prison time even for users. Offer them sterilization for a shortened jail terms and treatment in a one-shot only drug program. L. Loflin

By MATTHEW LANE February 13, 2006

JOHNSON CITY - Prosecutors and law enforcement officials are winning battles against major drug organizations in Northeast Tennessee, but the government is obviously losing the war against drugs in our region, a former U.S. attorney said recently.

Dan Smith worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the past 13 years attached to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and dealt primarily with seeking out and dismantling large illegal drug organizations. Though his office was in Johnson City, Smith's jurisdiction included the 10 counties of Northeast Tennessee.

Over the past 13 years, Smith estimated he prosecuted around 700 defendants from Northeast Tennessee. "The cases, unfortunately, have been pretty constant," Smith said. "I don't know what the problem is except to say there has got to be - based on my 13 years experience in Northeast Tennessee - a whole hell of a lot of users out there. We have dismantled some big organizations, and about the time we get one there's another one in its place. "We're winning all of the battles, but obviously we're losing the war."

Smith, 58, spent 21 years in the U.S. Marine Corps before going to work for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Beaumont, Texas, in 1991. After 18 months in Texas, Smith said he transferred to Johnson City in January 1993. After 13 years on the job, Smith left the U.S. Attorney's Office on Jan. 30 and said he intends to open up a private law practice in Johnson City by the first of March.

Smith has handled numerous marijuana and cocaine cases over the past 13 years. "I can't even tell you how many big cocaine cases we've had," Smith said. "We've done a huge crack cocaine conspiracy over the last two or three years where we indicted 80 people from Burlington, North Carolina," he said.

Another large cocaine and marijuana case, called Final Harvest, dealt with a group of Hispanics from Morristown. "They were dealing with massive amounts of cocaine and marijuana - I'm talking about hundreds of kilos of cocaine and thousands of pounds of marijuana," Smith said. "We ended up prosecuting over 80 or 90 people in that particular case." Smith said there is not a typical person that operates a large drug organization - the crime crosses all racial and socioeconomic patterns.

The drugs distributed by the organizations, however, do run fairly consistent, Smith said. "Cocaine and marijuana are the big ones. We have seen an increase in crack cocaine over the last few yeas and had a couple of heroin cases, but that's unusual," Smith said. "Methamphetamine is becoming an issue. When I first got here it was not, but it's certainly something that's growing." Smith said he did have one case involving LSD, but said that drug was just a passing fad and has essentially been replaced with Ecstasy. Heroin is also a rare drug found among the organizations, due to the difficultly of obtaining the narcotic. "One gram of cocaine sells for $40 on the street. A tenth of a gram of heroin is $50," Smith said.

And the organizations are well-organized, with people having clearly defined roles in the illegal drug trade, Smith said. "They've got individuals with particular and specific roles they play, whether it's the mule taking something somewhere or somebody transporting the money or helping to store or cut up and distribute the drugs," Smith said. "All of those things are clearly identified within the organizations." When someone is sentenced to prison in the federal system, there is no parole. If someone is sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling cocaine, then that person serves every day of the sentence.

Though it's hard to measure the gain prosecutors are making on the large drug organizations in Northeast Tennessee, harsh sentences in the federal system are a deterrent, Smith said. "Those are 700 people that are not in the business anymore. There's a clear sense of satisfaction with what we've done," Smith said. " I think that we would be more saturated than we are. We catch 700 people in 13 years, but without that deterrence we may have caught 1,500 or 2,000, so I think it does keep some people from pursuing it. "And you've got to think of the mentality too. These bigger drug dealers, they think they're smarter than we are. They just don't think they're going to get caught."

Another factor among drug dealers is there's big money in it, Smith said. "We did a two-pound meth reverse about a month or two ago, and the alleged drug dealer showed up with $48,000 cash in their pocket," he said. Some people have argued that illegal drugs should be made legal, especially marijuana. Smith said he thinks this would send the wrong message to the next generation. "It's like we'd be throwing up our hands and saying there's nothing we can do about. I don't think that's the right thing to do," he said. "I think it's too late for the 30- and 40-year-olds. I think we've got to start with an education program as we've done with tobacco and alcohol and convince them. We've got to saturate, in my opinion, the young kids that this just absolutely is destructive behavior and hope that over time it works."

Copyright 2006 Kingsport Times-News.

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