HUNTSVILLE — When Scott County Sheriff’s Office drug agents went to arrest a woman on an outstanding warrant this week, they wound up interrupting an alleged small-scale heroin trafficking operation.
Amanda Worthington had been indicted by a Scott County grand jury — her indictment sealed because her location was unknown, the sheriff’s office actively searching for her. Then, officers learned that Worthington might be staying in a house just a stone’s throw from the Scott County Justice Center.
At a little after 10 p.m. Tuesday night, a team that included Drug Agent Kris Lewallen, K-9 Officer Skylar Chambers and Detective Abby Duncan descended on the residence. Worthington’s car was in the driveway.
Officers waited for the owner of the rental home to arrive. The owner said that Worthington wasn’t supposed to be on the property, and gave officers consent to go inside the house and find her.
In a back bedroom of the small residence on Old Jamestown Road, the officers found Worthington in bed. They also found River Chase Blevins, 30, who was residing at the home.
Worthington was awoken and taken into custody on the active warrant without incident. But officers found something else, too: on the night stand beside the bed, in plain view, was a bag containing nearly four grams of heroin, which had been packaged for resale.
Officers also found a small amount of marijuana and a large amount of drug paraphernalia, including digital scales, which are used to weigh drugs and package them for resale.
Neither Worthington or Blevins admitted ownership of the heroin. Both were arrested. They face identical charges: felony possession of heroin for resale, felony possession of drug paraphernalia, simple possession of marijuana, and violation of the Drug Free School Zone Enhancement Act, since they were within the prohibited distance from nearby Scott High School.
Tuesday night’s arrests were just the latest in a series of drug-related arrests made by the sheriff’s office over the past week.
Duncan said the sheriff’s office has seen a surge of heroin and methamphetamine cases in recent days.
Meth is old news in Scott County. There are ebbs and flows, and law enforcement officers don’t bust meth labs very often these days, but the drug itself is always present, now most often imported into the community from outside.
Heroin is a little different. It’s not that it’s uncommon here, but heroin busts by law enforcement in aren’t exactly an everyday occurrence in this community. Heroin, ranked by scientists as the second most harmful drug available — just behind crack cocaine — is classified by state law as a Schedule I drug, meaning the penalties for possessing or selling it are greater than the penalties for just about any other drug. (Meth, which ranks just behind heroin in terms of the damage it causes, is classified as a Schedule II drug in Tennessee.)
The Tuesday night arrests weren’t the only heroin case that local law enforcement officers have seen in recent days.
On Monday, a 33-year-old LaFollette man was arrested after officers discovered heroin in his vehicle during a routine traffic stop.
David Martin Lemarr, 33, was arrested during the 7:30 p.m. traffic stop, which occurred on U.S. Hwy. 27 at the Scott County Bus Garage in Huntsville. The arresting officer, Lewallen, wrote in a warrant that he stopped Lemarr’s vehicle because of a busted taillight. Lemarr immediately pulled over, and was found to be driving on a suspended license. When Lewallen asked him if he had anything illegal in the vehicle, Lemarr alleged said that he “probably had a few needles in the car.”
Lewallen, along with K-9 officer Chambers and Deputy Aaron Johnson, searched the vehicle. What they found was a gram of heroin, a small amount of meth, a glass bottle containing melted Suboxone and a couple of needles.
Lemarr was charged with possession of heroin, possession of meth, possession of Suboxone — Schedule I, II and III drugs — violation of the light law and driving on a suspended license.
Nor were Tuesday’s arrests the only case in recent days involving allegations of drug trafficking. On July 11, a Robbins man was arrested on allegations of possessing meth for resale.
James Alvin Franklin, 47, of the Mountain View community, was arrested following a traffic stop in Huntsville.
The arresting officer, Deputy Silas Robbins Jr., had been dispatched to look for a Ford Focus that had run someone off the road and had last been spotted at the window of the Express gas station on Baker Highway.
Robbins caught sight of the yellow car and stopped it near Tennier Industries. When Robbins identified Franklin as the driver, he contacted his dispatchers to learn that Franklin was wanted on an outstanding warrant for violating the terms of his probation. He asked Franklin to step out of the vehicle and asked him if there was anything illegal inside, to which Franklin allegedly responded there was meth — “quite a bit” of it.
Robbins and Johnson allegedly found three sandwich bags of meth inside the vehicle, along with a bag of marijuana. Franklin was charged with three counts of possession of meth for resale, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Other drug-related arrests in the last week included:
• Matthew Mark Lawson, 33, of Robbins, arrested Monday on charges of possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia after Johnson noticed his vehicle swerving across the yellow line on Alberta Street in Oneida. Lawson allegedly told Johnson that he was swerving because he was looking at his phone. Lawson told Johnson he didn’t have anything illegal in his vehicle, but a search of the vehicle allegedly turned up two small bags of crystal meth and a meth pipe.
• Jessica King, 35, of Oneida, arrested Monday afternoon for possession of meth after Lewallen, Duncan and Chambers discovered her at a residence in Helenwood during an investigation. She was wanted on an outstanding warrant. After seeing King run inside the residence, the officers obtained permission from the owner of the home to search it, and found her inside a bathroom. She was allegedly in possession of a small amount of meth.
• James Stewart, 24, of West Oneida, arrested July 15 for possession of meth after a woman called police to say she was scared for her life because he was in her vehicle and “talking out of his head” about suicide or helping someone commit suicide. She asked police to stop her vehicle and get him out of the vehicle. Deputy Derek Sexton encountered the woman’s vehicle on Coopertown Road and initiated a traffic stop. A search of the vehicle allegedly turned up a small amount of meth in a bag beside the passenger seat where Stewart had been sitting.
• Tammy Kaye Robbins, 42, of Oneida, arrested July 16 on two counts of possession of Schedule III drugs following a traffic stop on Baker Highway in Huntsville. Johnson, the arresting officer, wrote in a warrant that he stopped Robbins after seeing her SUV swerving over the white line. Robbins allegedly told him that she was blind and could not see good at night. She and a passenger inside the vehicle denied anything illegal being in the SUV, and refused consent to search the vehicle. While Johnson was calling for a K-9 officer to come to the scene, Robbins allegedly said that she just remembered she had a used syringe in the vehicle. That admission gave Johnson probable cause to search the vehicle, and he allegedly found several used syringes, along with Subutex and Suboxone.
• Jody Duncan, 41, of Huntsville, arrested July 15 on charges of possession of a Schedule III drug, possession of a Schedule IV drug and possession of drug paraphernalia, after dispatchers received a call stating that his vehicle was driving recklessly in the Ditney Trail area east of Huntsville. Sexton was dispatched in response to the call, and encountered Duncan turning into a driveway off Massey Lane. As he approached the vehicle, Sexton shined his light inside and allegedly saw two needles sitting on the middle console. Duncan allegedly admitted that he also had two glass pipes in the vehicle, and turned over a bottle containing nine Xanax pills and a Buprenorphine pill.
• Brandy Rae Smith, 45, of Oneida, arrested July 14 on charges of possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia, during an investigation of trespassing. A caller had phoned police to report a man at a residence on Huntsville Hill Road who wasn’t supposed to be there. The caller told police that the man had run into a house next door. When Robbins and Johnson arrived, they encountered Smith at the house and a search allegedly revealed two syringes loaded with meth, along with several other needles. Smith allegedly told officers that she mostly uses Suboxone but also uses meth.
• Also arrested at the home was Jeffery Litton, 33, of Huntsville, the man who was allegedly trespassing at the Huntsville Hill Road residence. He was charged with possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal trespassing. The homeowner told police that it was believed Litton was attempting to steal a catalytic converter off a vehicle in the driveway — a crime that is becoming increasingly common. Allegedly, a handheld hack saw was found next to the vehicle after Litton left.
• A third suspect — Casey Alaine Terry, 39, of Huntsville — was also arrested at the home on charges of possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia. Terry was in the shower when officers arrived. As the home was searched and she was asked if she had anything illegal, she allegedly told them there might be a “bag of dope” in the bathroom. There, officers allegedly found a syringe and a bag of crystal meth, along with a set of digital scales.
• Rikki Keeton, 31, of Helenwood, arrested Tuesday on charges of possession of illegal mushrooms, possession of meth and possession of marijuana. Just after midnight Tuesday morning, Sexton conducted a traffic stop for a light law violation on a vehicle that Keeton was a passenger of. The driver of the vehicle, identified as Adrian Watters, relinquished syringes, a marijuana grinder and a tray containing marijuana crumbs. A further search of the vehicle allegedly revealed white stems from mushrooms, a small amount of crystal meth and a small bag of marijuana.