East Tenn. law enforcement agencies receive cash from drug bust

East Tenn. law enforcement agencies receive cash from massive drug bust

Posted:
Nineteen East Tennessee and Western North Carolina law enforcement agencies were presented with checks totaling more than $4 million Thursday morning. Nineteen East Tennessee and Western North Carolina law enforcement agencies were presented with checks totaling more than $4 million Thursday morning.
After a wiretap investigation in 2011, agents were able to stop a semi-truck on Interstate 40 driven by Armando Guzman Villegas and Javier Cruz-Ramirez. (source: Drug Enforcement Administration) After a wiretap investigation in 2011, agents were able to stop a semi-truck on Interstate 40 driven by Armando Guzman Villegas and Javier Cruz-Ramirez. (source: Drug Enforcement Administration)
A search of the truck uncovered shrunk wrapped pallets of bottled water. (source: Drug Enforcement Administration) A search of the truck uncovered shrunk wrapped pallets of bottled water. (source: Drug Enforcement Administration)
More than $4 million was found in one of the pallets. (source: Drug Enforcement Administration) More than $4 million was found in one of the pallets. (source: Drug Enforcement Administration)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Nineteen East Tennessee and Western North Carolina law enforcement agencies were presented with checks totaling more than $4 million Thursday morning. The money was forfeited to the U.S. government after a Mexican drug trafficking operation was busted.

The Blount County Sheriff's Office, Knox County Sheriff's Office, Lenoir City Police Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, Tennessee Fifth Judicial District Task Force, Metro Knoxville Airport Authority Police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Tennessee Department of Safety each received a check from the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program for more than $69,000.

The Knoxville Police Department received a check for more than $139,000.

The case involved a 2011 investigation of a Mexican drug trafficking organization. After a wiretap investigation, agents were able to stop a semi-truck on Interstate 40 driven by Armando Guzman Villegas and Javier Cruz-Ramirez.

A search of the truck uncovered shrunk wrapped pallets of bottled water, one of which contained approximately $4.1 million in cash.

Cruz-Ramirez pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises.  He was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Villegas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and to aiding and abetting interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises.  He was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.

The court also ordered the forfeiture of $4,078,713 in cash.

The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program is a nationwide initiative that recovers property that may be used to compensate victims or to share with law enforcement agencies with the goals of deterring crime and encouraging law enforcement agencies to work together.

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