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Federal Judge Sentences Three Methamphetamine Traffickers
A total of 57 defendants have been prosecuted federally in connection with Operation “Dixie Crystal”

FEB 09 (STATESVILLE, N.C.) - On Monday February 2, 2015, U.S. District Judge Richard L.Voorhees handed down prison sentences to three men for their involvement in a methamphetamine trafficking ring, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Kenneth Herman Bennett, 53, of West Jefferson, N.C. was sentenced to 188 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. Bennett pleaded guilty in December 2013 to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. According to court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, Bennett was the one of the conspiracy’s leaders and a supplier of crystal methamphetamine smuggled in to the United States from Mexico.

Judge Voorhees also sentenced Troy William Yount, Jr., 49, of Hudson, N.C. to 51 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, and Isaac Andrew Waters, 38, of Charlotte, to 33 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Yount and Waters each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine in November 2013 and April 2014, respectively.

The prosecutions stem from Operation “Dixie Crystal,” a joint drug task force operation which began in 2012, targeting significant methamphetamine traffickers in Ashe, Allegheny, Caldwell, Watauga, Wilkes Counties, and Johnson County in Tennessee. To date, a total of 57 defendants have been prosecuted federally in connection with this investigation.

According to filed court documents and court proceedings, beginning in 2003 and continuing through 2011, the drug trafficking conspiracy was responsible for the sale of more than 200 pounds of methamphetamine, with a street value of more than $4,000,000. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately 30 firearms, five vehicles, 20 pounds of methamphetamine, and $150,000 in U.S. currency.

The following 30 defendants each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and were sentenced as follows:

1. Larry Mitchell Snyder of Trade, Tenn., was sentenced in July 2014 to 120 months in prison and five years of supervised release.

2. Earl Butler Potter of Todd, N.C., was sentenced in October 2014 to 37 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

3. Stephanie Lynn Shatley of Lansing, N.C., was sentenced in October 2014 to 60 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

4. Jared William Pardue of Zionville, N.C., was sentenced in October 2014 to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

5. Tawana M. Sparks of Hudson, N.C. was sentenced in October 2014 to 24 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

6. Ricky Allen Latham of Creston, N.C., was sentenced in October 2014 to 46 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

7. Baxter Smith James of Boone, N.C., was sentenced in October 2014 to time served and eight years of supervised release.

8. Courtney Wayne Patterson of Todd, N.C., was sentenced in August 2014 to 110 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

9. Deborah Phillips Lewis of Todd, N.C., was sentenced in October 2014 to 33 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

10. James Foy Parsons of West Jefferson, N.C., was sentenced in August 2014 to 33 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

11. Tina Ann Wheeler (a/k/a Tina Ann Miller) of Crumpler, N.C., was sentenced in July 2014 to 108 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.

12. Mauricio “Mario” Baltazar of Lake City, Ga., was sentenced in June 2014 to 169 months in prison and five years of supervised release.

13. Jose Francisco Jimenez Pina of Mexico, was sentenced in April 2014 to 180 months in prison and five years of supervised release. In addition to the drug conspiracy charge, he also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting.

14. Jason Michael Benfield of Laurel Springs, N.C., was sentenced in June 2014 to 121 months in prison and five years of supervised release. In addition to the drug
conspiracy charge, he also pleaded guilty to carrying of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

15. Ernest Monroe Parlier, Jr. of Crumpler, N.C., was sentenced in April 2014 to 84 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release. In addition to the drug conspiracy charge, he also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

16. Jeremy Keith Nunnenkamp, of North Wilkesboro, N.C., was sentenced in July 2014 to 120 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

17. Jeffrey Dale Watson of Fleetwood, N.C., was sentenced in June 2014 to 15 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

18. James Thomas Hawkins of Laurel Springs, N.C., was sentenced in August 2014 to 70 months in prison and five years of supervised release.

19. Chad Morgan Yates of Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., was sentenced in July 2014 to 97 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

20. Christy Lee Latham of Warrensville, N.C., was sentenced in June 2014 to 84 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

21. Melanie Virginia Osley of Chattahoochee Hills, Tenn., was sentenced in April 2014 to 108 months in prison and five years of supervised release.

22. Luis Enrique Garcia, of Mexico, was sentenced in December 2013 to 188 months in prison and five years of supervised release.

23. Jose Francisco Jimenez Pina, of Mexico, was sentenced in April 2014 to 180 months in prison and five year of supervised release. In addition to the drug conspiracy charge, he also pleaded guilty to unlawful use and carry of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

24. Jose Humberto Jimenez Pina, of Mexico, was sentenced in April 2014 to 50 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release. In addition to the drug conspiracy charge, he also pleaded guilty to unlawful use and carry of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

25. Bobby Giles Shore, of Lansing, N.C. was sentenced in April 2014 to 24 months in prison and five years of supervised release.

26. Danny Eller of West Jefferson, N.C., was sentenced in April 2014 to 21 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

27. Cristie Aldridge Dollar of Foscoe, N.C., was sentenced in December 2013 to 121 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

28. Pamela Ann Corum, of Zionville, N.C. was sentenced in March 2014 to 63 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

29. Tammy Wynette Woody, of West Jefferson, N.C., was sentenced in June 2014 to 30 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.

30. Javier Sanchez Chavez of Mexico, was sentenced in March 2014 to 21 months in prison and one year of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to withholding information on a crime.

Seventeen additional defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and are currently awaiting sentencing:

31. John Dale Darden, of Jefferson, N.C.
32. Larry Curtis Hooks of Lenoir, N.C.
33. William Clyde Townsend of Mountain, Tenn.
34. Victor Javier Hernandez (address unknown).
35. Terri Elaine Clark of Lenoir, N.C.
36. Michael Wayne Jenkins of Bloomer, N.C.
37. Bradley Eugene Goble of Lenoir, N.C.
38. Karl Albert Blanton of Lenoir, N.C.
39. Christopher Everett Triplett of Hudson, N.C.
40. Anthony Dwayne Byers of Jefferson, N.C.
41. Toni Leigh Wilson of Stanley, N.C.
42. Jesse Lawrence Burkett of Fleetwood, N.C.
43. John Paul Caudill of Laurel Springs, N.C.
44. Shannon Marie Williams Greene of Hickory, N.C.
45. Stephen Roger Dean (address unknown)
46. Lisa Dawn Wentworth of Lenoir, N.C.
47. Yee Thor of Newton, N.C.

The following three defendants have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and are expected to appear in federal court to formally accept their pleas once their hearings have been scheduled:
48. Anthony Lee Day of Crumpler, N.C.
49. Donald Ray Newton of Byron, Ga.
50. Marixa Dawn Hart of Jefferson, N.C.

Three more defendants have been charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine:

51. Roger Dale Franklin of Lenoir, N.C. (via federal criminal indictment).
52. Brian Ledford of Newton, N.C. (via federal criminal complaint).
53. Heather Renee Miller of Hickory, N.C. (via federal criminal complaint).
   
Another defendant, Martin Martinez Saldana, 43, of West Jefferson, N.C., was convicted by a jury in March 2014 of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and of receipt and possession of a firearm that was not registered to him. He is currently awaiting sentencing.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Tompkins recognized the following federal, state and local agencies which partnered in Operation Dixie Crystal, and thanked them for their continued cooperation and support: the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI); the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office; the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office; Boone Police Department; the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office; the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office; the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office; the Johnson County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office; the Lenoir Police Department; the Hickory Police Department; and the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.

The prosecutions are being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.

The DEA 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.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.


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