MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) — Three people are facing charges after police found more than $100,000 in cash and $30,000 worth of pills during a search warrant that caught the “biggest pill dealer in the area” according to the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office.

HCSO said that on Monday, officers with the Criminal Investigations Division and HCSO patrol assisted with the search warrant at a residence on Old Russellville Pike. Betty Sue Johnson, 63, and Donald Rickard, 61, who live at the residence were being investigated by police, the release from HCSO states. Police also added that Crystal Grooms, 45, was also present at the time of the search and was arrested.

WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with Lieutenant Gene Watson, the lead lieutenant with the Narcotics Division to talk about this bust. Watson has been with the Narcotics Division for 12 years. Leading up to the search, Watson shared that the investigation leading up to the Dec. 12 search has been occurring for more than two years, and it is still an ongoing case. According to Watson, Johnson was the biggest pill dealer in the area.

Police say that in addition to the $100,574 in cash, they also seized $30,000 worth of pills; including 196 Opana pills, 79 Oxycodone pills, 11 Clonazepam pills, and 2 Suboxone strips. In the picture shared by police which is included below, stacks of cash can be seen across the tables, some with slips of paper denoting the amounts, as well as bottles with the pills laid out and two rolls of quarters.

Multiple stacks of cash and bottles of pills which were seized by police in a search warrant laying across a table.
Drugs and cash seized by the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office during a search. (HCSO)

Watson shared that the money seized in these searches goes back into the sheriff’s department, funding the equipment and training the Narcotics Division needs in order to get drugs off the streets.

“It funds the Narcotic Unit to buy equipment, to get training, get vehicles, and things of that nature,” Watson said. “A lot of it goes to training as well. We do a lot of training, specialized training.”

Watson also added that the equipment that the money helps fund includes vests, recorders, and transmitters.

Johnson, Rickard, and Grooms are all facing drug charges according to HCSO. The release from police states that Johnson and Rickard are also facing charges of maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are sold.

According to Watson, there is an ongoing drug issue in Hamblen County. He said the most common drug is methamphetamine, but heroin and fentanyl have been becoming more common in the last year and a half.

Methamphetamine is the big, big thing still.” Watson said. “You don’t see as many of the pill busts as we used to, say 6-7 years ago, ’cause the methamphetamine has really taken over the town, but like I say. The heroin and fentanyl is really starting to pick up as well.”

The Sheriff shared in the release that he is proud of the Narcotics division and the work they put into getting drugs off the street. He also added that he was thankful for how well the entire HCSO team worked together.

“We take the fight against drugs in Hamblen County very seriously,” Sheriff Chad Mullins said. “It may be an uphill climb, but the HCSO team is willing to make that climb.”

Watson said the most rewarding part of the job is getting the drugs off of the streets, keeping them as clean and safe as possible. He also added that he was thankful for both the Narcotics Division and the sheriff’s department’s support.

“I’ve got a really good team behind me,” he said. “The sheriff’s department has been really supportive, Sheriff Mullins has been outstanding as well, and I just can’t thank them enough.”