Drug Enforcement Administration


D. Christopher Evans, Special Agent in Charge

April 08, 2019

Contact: Kevin McWilliams

Phone Number: (502) 638-4042

DEA working hard to tackle rising drug threat in Johnson City area

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced that its agents here arrested 24 individuals on drug-related charges in recent weeks. Over the past several months, Johnson City has been targeted by narcotics traffickers. Investigators have arrested 133 individuals on drug-related, firearms and money laundering charges since July 2018, some with ties to a methamphetamine trafficking ring in Atlanta, Ga. During the course of these arrests, agents also seized large quantities of drugs, including more than 84 pounds of methamphetamine, as well as nearly 50 firearms.


“The men and women of the DEA, working alongside our law enforcement partners, are committed to making communities like Johnson City safer by getting rid of illegal drugs and locking up those who traffic them,” said DEA Louisville Division Special Agent in Charge D. Christopher Evans, which oversees the agency’s operations in Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.


Just last fall, DEA agents in eastern Tennessee seized three pill presses and 240 grams of butyrfentanyl during joint investigations with our federal law enforcement partners. Initial testing revealed that one of the seized pill presses tested positive for the presence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is lethal in extremely small amounts. Counterfeit pills provide an elevated danger to those who abuse illicit pharmaceuticals, as they often contain ingredients like fentanyl, increasing the likelihood of an overdose. Drug traffickers often mix fentanyl with heroin to produce a stronger high at a much cheaper price.


According to the most current data from the Centers for Disease Control, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdose deaths in 2017, up nearly 10 percent over the previous year. This is a more than two-fold increase over a decade. Of those overdose deaths, just over 49,000 were from synthetic opioids, which include prescription painkillers, heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Pill abuse and addiction is often the starting point for heroin and fentanyl addicts. 


In recent years, DEA has dramatically increased its resources to combat the opioid epidemic, including the formation of Tactical Diversion Squads throughout the United States to target multiple levels of drug diversion and those who are among the most egregious violators. DEA has also launched the comprehensive DEA 360 Strategy in cities nationwide that seek to leverage law enforcement efforts with the health care community, treatment facilities, faith-based organizations, community groups and the business community in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Since 2010, DEA has also hosted semi-annual National Prescription Drug Takeback Days that provide the opportunity for citizens to empty their medicine cabinets of any unwanted, unused or expired medications for safe disposal. Last year, nearly 2.5 tons were collected in Johnson City.

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