Agents Arrested 5
Pounds Of Meth
BY BILL JONES
Five Mexican and Honduran nationals are facing methamphetamine distribution conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court in Greeneville as the result of a local-state-federal investigation that began in Greeneville in late March.
An affidavit filed in support of a federal criminal complaint in U.S. District Court by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, states that on March 30 an undercover agent met with two men in the parking lot of the Greeneville Walmart.
During that meeting, according to the affidavit, Guadalupe Granado agreed to provide the undercover agent 20 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and 2,000 pounds of marijuana at a later date.
With Granado during the March 30 meeting with the undercover DEA agent in Greeneville was Antonio Alcala, the affidavit said.
A series of cell phone calls between Granado and the undercover agent ensued, according to the affidavit.
During those calls, agents learned that Granado's source of supply was believed to be in the Winston-Salem, N.C., area.
On April 11, according to the complaint, Granado agreed to sell the undercover agent 20 pounds of crystal methamphetamine for $310,000 cash and said he was willing to sell 2,000 pounds of marijuana.
Investigators subsequently learned where Granado and Alcala were living in Morristown, according to the affidavit.
A Third Judicial District Task Force agent from Greeneville observed Granado repairing a vehicle outside a Morristown residence on April 12 and reported that to the DEA.
As a result of the ensuing investigation, Granado, Alcala and three other suspects were arrested on May 14 in Hamblen and Cocke counties, the affidavit said.
The criminal complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Greeneville against Granado, 35, of Newport; Marcos Antonio Rivera, 33, of Winston Salem, N.C.; Mendoza Ventura Placido, 29, of Galax, Va.; Abel Martinez Tavera, 37, of Winston Salem, N.C.; and, Elias Mazariegos Perez, 30, of Morristown.
All are charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine after they were stopped in a car with more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office.
All five defendants made initial appearances for arraignment on Tuesday in U.S. District Court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis H. Inman.
Agents from the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed immigration detainers on each of the five defendants, who are of Mexican and Guatemalan nationality.
Judge Inman also set a preliminary hearing for Thursday, May 27.
If convicted, each defendant faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years and up to life imprisonment, a fine of up to $4 million and a term of at least five years of supervised release.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force in Johnson City, assisted by the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the Greene County Sheriff's Department, the Third Judicial Drug Task Force, Fourth Judicial Drug Task Force, Morristown Police Department, Hamblen County Sheriff's Office, Cocke County Sheriff's Office, Johnson City Police Department, Elizabethton Police Department, Kingsport Police Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor is representing the United States.
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, "All participating agencies played a crucial role in the arrest of these individuals and the seizure of these drugs. I want to thank our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts, who had a direct impact in making this investigation a success."