Fifty Defendants Charged in Large-Scale
DEC 21 --KNOXVILLE, TN -- A federal grand jury in Knoxville returned an indictment on December 7, 2010, charging 20 defendants with being members of a large-scale money laundering and drug trafficking conspiracy involving prescription narcotics in and around Claiborne County, Tenn. A Claiborne County grand jury also returned indictments charging another 30 defendants for their roles in the same conspiracy. The charges are the result of a four-month investigation conducted jointly by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Appalachia HIDTA Task Force (and counterparts in Tampa, Florida), Internal Revenue Service- Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) in Knoxville and Tampa, Florida, Eighth Judicial District Drug Task Force, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Kentucky State Police, Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department, Pinellas County, Florida Sheriff’s Department, St. Petersburg, Florida Police Department, the United States Attorney’s Office and the office of District Attorney General Paul Phillips.
The lead defendant in the federal indictment is Kevin Trent Bussell, 35, of Tazewell, Tennessee. The indictment alleges that he and others were involved in a drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy for over two years, and that the drugs involved in the conspiracy included, among others, oxycodone, hydromorphone and hydrocodone, Schedule II controlled substances. Oxycodone is a synthetic form of heroin. The indictment further alleges that the defendants sold in excess of $6 million dollars worth of prescription narcotics over the course of the conspiracy. The indictment also demands the forfeiture of approximately $64,000 in cash which was seized from various members of the conspiracy last month, a houseboat on Norris Lake, two parcels of real property in Claiborne County, multiple conveyances such as pick-up trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, cars and recreational vehicles. Most of the seizures took place during raids conducted on November 23, 2010, in Claiborne County and St. Petersburg, Florida. Bussell and one other defendant are also charged with possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.
Besides Kevin Trent Bussell, the following individuals have also been indicted in the federal drug trafficking conspiracy.
In addition to six of the defendants named above, the following individuals have also been indicted in the federal money laundering conspiracy.
If convicted, the federally-charged defendants face terms of up to 20 years in prison on the drug and money laundering conspiracy counts. The defendants who are charged with possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, if convicted, face a term of not less than five (5) years in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed.
Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Atlanta Field Division of the DEA said, “Today’s arrests have caused the dismantlement of an organization responsible for the distribution of oxycodone and other narcotics in eastern Tennessee, and this case is a perfect example of the success that can be accomplished when federal, state and local resources are combined to present a united front.”
United States Attorney Bill Killian and District Attorney General Paul Phillips said, “These indictments are the result of cooperation and tireless efforts by many agents from several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. We applaud their work in combating what has become the most significant drug trafficking problem in this area, the illegal sale and abuse of prescription narcotics.”
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until his/her guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was part of the Department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) programs. OCDETF is the primary weapon of the United States against the highest level drug trafficking organizations operating within the United States, importing drugs into the United States, or laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking. The HIDTA program enhances and coordinates drug control efforts among local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies. The program provides agencies with coordination, equipment, technology, and additional resources to combat drug trafficking and its harmful consequences in critical regions of the United States.
Assistant United States Attorneys Rodney D. Bullard and Bret R. Williams prosecuted the case. DEA Atlanta’s SAC Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justhinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.