'Operation Pill Trader' busts 4 for string of Cocke Co. crimes

'Operation Pill Trader' busts 4 men for string of Cocke County crimes

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NEWPORT (WATE) - Cocke County authorities say they have cracked a recent chain of burglaries with the arrests of four people.

In what they call "Operation Pill Trader," sheriff's deputies said Friday their four-day investigation solves a series of crimes related to the sale of pills.

William Cody, 24, and Phillip Jenkins, 21, are charged with 17 counts of aggravated burglary, 17 counts of vandalism, criminal trespassing, felony possession of a handgun, and two counts of dependency and neglect of a child.

Michael Frasier, 34, is charged with drug possession and James Lupton, 39, is charged with felony possession of a handgun.

Authorities say further charges against Frasier are pending. He is being held on a $25,000 bond.

The investigation began when a resident of Airport Road saw two of the suspects breaking into a neighbor's residence.

The citizen held the pair at gunpont until officers arrived.

During the investigation that followed, officers pieced together a string of burglaries that took place between March and this month in the areas of Point Pleasant, Bybee, Hartford, Parrottsville, and Lower English Creek.

Armed with a search warrant deputies found TVs, guns, Playstation games, laptops, power tools, a gas grill, jewelry, a riding lawnmower and other items.

Officer say most of the stolen items were traded by Cody and Jenkins to Frazier in exchange for prescription pills.

At another residence in Cosby, additional items were found, including 73 long guns and handguns. Charges against the homeowner in possession of those items are pending.

Investigators are trying to track the owners of the guns to determine which may have been stolen.

Sheriff Armando Fontes says a pain pill epidemic is becoming the greatest drug problem in Cocke County.

"Everything we deal with evolves about Roxycontin and Opana," he said. "That's the number one drug of choice in this community. It actually is more of a drug and more commonly used than cocaine and meth."

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