Operation Salt Vegas: Federal agents serve meth warrants in sout

Operation Salt Vegas: Federal agents serve meth warrants in southwest VA, northeast TN

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TRI-CITIES, TN/VA (WJHL) - An investigation into two methamphetamine distribution operations spanning Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia revealed that 23 people arrested earlier this week in “Operation Salt Vegas” conspired to traffick the drug for more than five years.

According to federal court documents from the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon, information about the meth ring began surfacing in April 2011 and investigators determined the trafficking began near Jan. 1, 2009.

From June 2012 until April this year, federal, state and local law officers interviewed suspects and bought meth from people who were making and trafficking meth.

One of the people arrested in “Operation Salt Vegas” this week was recorded saying he was being supplied meth from a Mexican cartel.

The 107-page criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court included transcribed text messages between some of those arrested that investigators said indicated methamphetamine transactions.

The following people were included in the federal complaint:

  • Richard Shaw
  • Melvin Campbell
  • Jim Grindstaff
  • Daniel Reece
  • Linda Walters
  • Russell Cassell
  • Kenneth Craig Buchanan
  • Stephanie Patrick
  • Roger Lawson
  • Toby Mock
  • Rachael Peake
  • Jason Mullinax
  • Roger Austin Jr.
  • Timothy Gerace
  • Angela Surber
  • Patricia Leann Hall
  • Michael BradyLester
  • Joseph Nathan Hall
  • William Hunt, Jr.
  • Brandi MarieDunford
  • Timothy Nickolas Rabara
  • Albert Hague
  • Kimberly Ann Bradley

Charges include conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

“This investigation is another example of ATF’s Frontline Initiative which concerns the ongoing war against the violent organized crime elements that plague or communities and threaten our citizens throughout the country,” said Charles E. Smith, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Washington (and Virginia) Field Division,

Operation Salt Vegas was assisted by The Washington County Virginia Sherriff’s Office, the Smyth County Virginia Sherriff’s Office, the Johnson County Tennessee Sherriff’s Office, the Carter County Tennessee Sherriff’s Office, the Russell County Virginia Sherriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police and the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

"This investigation will have a significant impact on the methamphetamine trade being brought into the Mountain Empire Region," said Washington County, VA sheriff Fred Newman. 

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