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4 charged in Cocke County cocaine trafficking investigation

WATE 6 On Your Side staff - NEWPORT (WATE) - Four people were indicted in connection with a cocaine trafficking operation after a joint investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Cocke County Sheriff's Office and Drug Enforcement Administration.

On Wednesday, a Cocke County Grand Jury returned indictments charging Miguel Perez, 36, Gilberto Cortes, 40, Samantha Faye Hill, 31, and Tony Velasques,39, with the sale, distribution and delivery of cocaine. Agents said the investigation revealed the four were responsible for distributing a large amount of cocaine between June 2015 and July 2016 throughout Cocke and Jefferson counties.

All four suspects were arrested Wednesday afternoon and booked into the Cocke County Jail. Perez, Cortes and Velasques are being held without bond. Hill is being held on a $25,000 bond.

Cocke County Sheriff Armando Fontes said officers from the DEA and TBI served indictments at three separate residences in Cocke County on Wednesday. Officers went to Gilberto Cortez residence located at 962 Old Greenville Hwy and arrested him on the indictment.

Officers said they saw narcotic related evidence in plain view. After a search warrant was obtained, officers found 9.5 ounces of cocaine and approximately 6.5 ounces of marijuana.  Three vehicles, the narcotics, packaging material, $4,700 in currency and a cocaine press designed to compress cocaine into kilogram bricks were seized.

"This operation has disrupted a major flow of cocaine and marijuana into the Cocke County community," said Sheriff Fontes in a statement. "Immigration and custom enforcement was contacted concerning the immigration status of the individuals arrested. As sheriff of this community, I will continue to work with partnering agencies to crack down on illegal drugs and will enforce the immigration laws especially pertaining to non-us citizens who are involved in criminal activity."

Sheriff Fontes said further charges are pending on the narcotics discovered at the residence.

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