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Gregg County Businesses Busted in Synthetic Drug Operation

DEC 03 (LONGVIEW, Texas) — U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that three individuals have been arrested following a lengthy investigation into a synthetic drug operation in the Eastern District of Texas.

On Dec. 3, 2014, a combined task force of federal, state and local law enforcement executed federal arrest warrants and search warrants in Longview, Texas as a result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Tyler Task Force.  In April 2014, law enforcement agencies, initiated an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation into a synthetic marijuana trafficking organization based in the East Texas area.  This investigation involved extensive surveillance and controlled purchases of controlled substances, controlled substance analogues, and drug paraphernalia.  To date, law enforcement officials have seized several products containing illegal synthetic drugs. 

The operation resulted in the arrest of Jeremy Chad Tidwell, 39, of Gilmer, Texas, his wife, Shanna Peek Tidwell, 36, of Gilmer, and Jeremy’s brother, Brian Tidwell 42, of Arlington, Texas.  Four retail stores, all located in Longview, were searched as part of the law enforcement operation.  Approximately $1 million cash and two vehicles were seized, as well as synthetic drugs during the operation.

The defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 12, 2014 and charged with two counts of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute synthetic drugs containing Schedule I controlled substances and controlled substance analogues, one count of conspiracy to offer for sale misbranded or altered drugs, one count of conspiracy to sell drug paraphernalia, and one count of conspiracy to money launder.  The defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love today for an initial appearance.

If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years in federal prison.

“Today’s enforcement operations are indicative of the DEA’s commitment to rid East Texas communities of dangerous and unpredictable substances such as K2, also known as Spice (synthetic cannabinoids), that were being distributed by an organization that generated tremendous illicit profits from sales to multiple users,” said the DEA Dallas Division’s Special Agent in Charge Daniel R. Salter.  “Citizens in East Texas can rest assured that the DEA and our law enforcement partners are determined to ensure that Gregg County and the surrounding communities remain a safe place to live.  The success of this intensive and thorough investigation is an outstanding example of cooperative law enforcement efforts and determination.”

The DEA Task Force in Tyler includes officers from the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Henderson Police Department, Kilgore Police Department, Smith County Sheriff’s Office, and Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, as well as DEA special agents.

Other agencies assisting in the joint investigative effort included the U.S. Attorney’s Office - Eastern District of Texas, DEA Tyler Task Force, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, Gregg County Organized Drug Enforcement Unit (CODE), Longview Police Department, Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, Kilgore Police Department, Lakeport Police Department, Gladewater Police Department, Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Marshals Service.
           
An indictment or arrest is not evidence of guilt.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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