A joint effort between several law enforcement agencies early Friday morning netted 14 arrests out of the 49 suspects indicted Wednesday under seal for the manufacture, sale and delivery of illegal drugs inside the county.
The Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department has seen a definitive switch in the last year or two from the sale of OxyContin to Opana and some heroin, said Sheriff David Ray during a law enforcement briefing held just prior to the roundup.
“We were second largest in the country for the illegal use of OxyContin just a couple years ago, and were averaging about one death a week,” said Ray.
More recently, the toxicology reports from drug overdoses show a mix of Xanax and Opana, he said, adding the pipeline for OxyContin from Florida has all but dried up.
Those arrested Friday morning in the first of several dragnets to continue were Kendall D. England, Tahlena Nicole Snodgrass, Ashley Cochran, Jonathan Allen Young, Mary Lou Price, John Jeffery Skroch, Gregg Martinez Jr., Randy Curtis Williams, Samuel Pelcher, Kent Mandell Young, Danny Patterson, Hodsol Preyter, Brandon Graves and Daniel Eugene Cox.
Melinda Harp Taylor, one of five indicted for TennCare fraud, was arrested during the roundup Friday morning as well.
The 15 are currently incarcerated in the Claiborne County Jail under $1,000 to $100,000 bonds. Arraignments are scheduled for Nov. 12 before Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton.
Members of the Tazewell and New Tazewell Police, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Knox County Sheriff’s Department officers and members of the Eighth Judicial Drug Task Force joined with officers of the CCSD to comb the county for the suspects.
Reach Jan Runions at email@example.com or 423-626-3222.