KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville man who evaded law enforcement custody for five months in 2021 will spend the next three decades in prison for drug trafficking and weapons convictions.

Demarquise Lamar Welch, 38, was sentenced to 31 years in prison on Monday after he was convicted of several charges including possession with intent to sell cocaine, possession with intent to sell heroin, evading arrest and theft.

In 2018, officers attempted to pull over a Dodge Charger driven by Welch that had been reported stolen but he evaded arrest. He was found a short time later at 4113 Alma Avenue where officers discovered firearms and drugs inside the residence. A loaded .40 caliber handgun, a loaded .223 caliber pistol, and multiple bags of cocaine were found inside the stolen vehicle.

While on bond for this case, Organized Crime Unit investigators with the Knoxville Police Department learned Welch was selling heroin at 3208 E. Fifth Avenue. Officers prepared to serve a search warrant to that address on Feb. 10, 2021 but Welch was able to evade arrest in his vehicle.

He remained on the run until July 17, 2021 when he was found passed out in a vehicle with a bag of cocaine in his hand. Welch attempted to put the car in drive when woken by officers and again attempted to flee on foot when removed from the vehicle.

Officers discovered a loaded .40 caliber handgun in his waistband and multiple bags of drugs in the
car.

Welch had five prior convictions in Knox and Washington counties for reckless endangerment involving a deadly weapon, unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, evading arrest, possession with intent to sell cocaine and theft.

“My Office will continue to aggressively prosecute convicted felons in possession of firearms and individuals who repeatedly traffic drugs in our community,” District Attorney General Charme Allen said.