|Fed drug, gambling charges nab 11|
|Thursday, December 18, 2008|
By JENNIFER HORTON
Lebanon Police joined with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in an investigation that has resulted in the indictment of 11 people on narcotics and gambling charges.
The indictments were announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney Edward Yarbrough and Harry Sommers, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA.
The 11 people indicted on Dec. 3 by a federal grand jury in Nashville reside in the Crossville area. The Lebanon Police Department is part of the task force that investigated the case.
“Our agency worked about eight months on this,” said Lebanon Commissioner of Public Safety Billy Weeks.
“We have in the process over the last week of seizing hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars’ worth of assets and property,” he said, including “half a million in cash.”
Also seized were vehicles, campers, four-wheelers, golf carts, homes, farms and more.
Weeks said the seizure of the property and cash will be good for the LPD because it will bring money into the department’s drug fund which in turn will be used to investigate drug cases.
“We put in a lot of long hours. It did stop a lot of narcotics coming into Middle Tennessee,” Weeks said, adding that a person suspected of being involved in this case was arrested last year in Lebanon.
He noted that more arrests are expected to be made as the investigation continues.
The federal indictment, which was unsealed on Dec. 10, charged eight individuals with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute marijuana, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. They were identified as Joseph Wolcott, Bruce Ferguson, Thomas Mink, Jennifer Lamear, Danny Dean Brown, Teresa Doolittle, Philip Pena Santiago and another person whose name has not been released.
In addition, six people are facing gambling charges in violation of federal gambling laws, including conducting an illegal gambling business in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1955.
They are Joseph Wolcott, Kevin Wolcott, Rachel Wolcott, Darrell Tommy Jones, Jack Swallows and another person whose name has not been released.
Yarbrough and Sommers said the federal indictment’s charges against two additional people remains under seal.
“It’s a joint effort between us and the DEA,” Weeks said, adding the indictments represent “a significant blow to the drug dealers.” He noted, however, “We fully expect someone else to step up and fill the void.”
“I congratulate the DEA and other law enforcement agencies on their tremendous work on this multifaceted investigation. We are confident that law enforcement efforts of this kind will have a positive impact on Crossville and the surrounding areas, by stopping illegal activities like those alleged in the indictment,” Yarbrough said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Childs is prosecuting the case for the United States.
In addition to the LPD and the DEA, other agencies involved in the investigation include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Department of Agriculture OIG, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Sparta Police Department and the Crossville Police Department.
Weeks said working together and pooling resources among various law enforcement and other agencies whenever possible is good to do, especially when the economy affects everyone and all departments.
“We really enjoy the relationships we have with these folks,” he noted.