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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

July 27, 2010

Gregg L. Sullivan, Acting United States Attorney

Contact: Sharry Dedman-Beard
(865) 545-4167
(865) 545-4176 (fax)

Fifteen Arrested on Federal Methamphetamine Charges in Van Buren County

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn — Twelve men and three women were arrested today in Van Buren County on charges involving various violations of federal narcotics and firearms laws. Today’s arrests by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), and Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department, are the result of a two-year investigation into the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine in and around Van Buren County.

All of the individuals arrested are charged with conspiring to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine and conspiring to possess and distribute pseudoephedrine for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine. Several also face federal charges for unlawful possession of a firearm. Those arrested include Allen Dale Cole, 46, Robert Helton, 46, Charles Helton, 48, Larry Sullivan, 28, Eddie Simmons, 32, Tonya Mills, 33, Kevin Argo, 32, Cheyenne Mooneyham, 36, Jimmy Hopkins, Jr., 32, Wendell Rigsby, 39, Titus Sullivan, 30, Cody McCluskey, 22, Amber Rogers, 25, and Crystal Shockley, 24, all of Spencer, Tennessee, and Jeffrey Hobbs, 31, of McMinnville, Tennessee. Joshua Simmons, 29, Timothy Ryan Bouldin, 24, and Ashley Smith, 24, all of Spencer, are currently in custody and will be brought to federal court in the coming week. Other federal defendants are pending arrest and their names and other pertinent information will be released upon their initial appearance before the United States Magistrate Judge. A list of each individual charge with the potential penalty, if convicted, is listed on the summary sheet attached to this release.

Initial appearances are scheduled for Wednesday, July 28, 2010, in United States District Court in Chattanooga, before the Honorable Susan K. Lee, United States Magistrate Judge.

Acting United States Attorney Gregg Sullivan said, These arrests and this prosecution are part of our continuing effort to reduce the availability of methamphetamine in East Tennessee.

This long term investigation focused on several individuals involved in methamphetamine manufacturing, distribution and illegal firearm possession. The ATF, the TBI, and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office will continue our team approach to investigate and arrest individuals who violate the law, stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Glenn Anderson.

We became involved with the ATF and Van Buren Sheriff’s Office in February 2009, while investigating a group that were involved in cooking and dealing methamphetamine. Several individuals also possessed firearms while being prohibited. This is a continuous effort by the ATF, the US Attorney’s Office, and the TBI in partnering to reduce crime in our communities, stated TBI Special Agent in Charge Richard W. Brogan, East Tennessee Drug Division.

The Office of District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis, 31st Judicial District, is proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to join with the other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in this lengthy operation resulting in these arrests. Our office remains committed to taking a strong stand against the spread of methamphetamine and will continue to work hard to prosecute any person who seeks to distribute this drug in our community, said Zavogiannis.

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office is thankful that this case went well and all law enforcement personnel are safe after the arrests. The citizens of our county benefit greatly from this operation, conveyed Van Buren County Sheriff Barney Evans.

Assistant United States Attorney Terra Bay will represent the United States.

Members of the public are reminded that these are only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their 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.