Published On: Fri, Jun 28th, 2019

Almost $2 million of illegal narcotics seized in Cherokee last year

 

 DOI Report: Over 3,200 pounds of “illegal narcotics” seized in Indian Country last year

 

SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

About one-and-a-half tons of illegal narcotics were seized by law enforcement officials in Indian County last year.  The Division of Drug Enforcement within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) released its 2018 Year End Report on Tuesday, June 25.  The report notes that over 3,200 pounds of “illegal narcotics”, valued at around $9.8 million, were seized in Indian Country last year.

“Last year, BIA-OJS officers successfully stopped thousands of pounds of deadly narcotics from reaching our tribal communities,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement.  “I applaud the multi-department effort that has led to these drug seizures as it supports the Trump Administration’s commitment to protecting its citizens and getting these drugs off the streets.  Through collaboration with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners, we are best able to effectively and efficiently address the drug issues facing our communities.  It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach, and it’s making a difference.”

According to information from the Cherokee Indian Police Department (CIPD), they made a total of 125 drug arrests in 2018 and seized $32,926 in cash, 80 firearms, and two vehicles valued at $20,000.  They also seized drugs worth almost $2 million ($1,990,198).

“We are extremely thankful for the working relationships we have with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners,” said CIPD Chief of Police Doug Pheasant.  “Our collective commitment to improve quality of life in our communities is the driving force behind our partnership and the Opioid Reduction Task Force.  The opioid problem is a national epidemic and the Cherokee Indian Police Department is dedicated to doing its part.”

CIPD information breaks the seized drugs (2018) by value as follows:

  • Processed Marijuana: $1,029,660
  • Crystal Methamphetamine (Ice/Glass): $913,668
  • Heroin: $38,760
  • Oxycodone: $5,640
  • Cocaine: $1,600
  • Vicodin: $690
  • Crack Cocaine: $180

Nationwide, the seizures referenced in the BIA-OJS report occurred in seven states including North Carolina, Arizona, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, and Washington.  A multi-agency operation, part of the Joint Opioid Reduction Task Force, resulted in the seizure of 248 pounds of illegal narcotics and 132 total arrests (75 in DOI’s Opioid Reduction Task Force Operation and 57 in another investigation by the BIA’s Division of Drug Enforcement and the DEA) in and around the Qualla Boundary (Cherokee Indian Reservation) in September 2018.

Following that operation, Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed commented, “I am extremely grateful to the Secretary of the Interior, the BIA, and the multiple state and local agencies who helped make this operation a success.  The arrest of these drug dealers is a critical step towards ensuring that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are able to provide the healthy environment our people deserve.”

Drugs seized in the Opioid Reduction Task Force operation in Cherokee included: 923 grams of Methamphetamine, 26.7 grams of Heroin, 178.8 grams of Cocaine, 219.3 pounds of marijuana, 574.4 grams of “other pills”, four firearms, and 1 gram of MDMA (Ecstasy).

John Tahsuda, III, principal deputy assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, said in a statement on Tuesday, “I commend the progress made in FY2018 by the BIA-OJS through its leadership of the DOI Opioid Reduction Task Force and its stand-alone interdiction operations.  BIA-OJS law enforcement officers and officers across the Department of the Interior answer the call every day to promote public safety and end the scourge of drugs in tribal communities.”

During the September 2018 Federal Opioid Reduction Task Force operation in Cherokee, 12 people received federal charges.  According to information from the Department of Justice, the following were charged (note: those charged with a crime should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law):

  • Dontavius Juan Cox, 26, Sylva – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl: Charges pending
  • Derek Wilson Driver, 26, Cherokee – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl: Charges pending
  • David Charles Fisher, 56, Bryson City – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine (two counts): Pled guilty to one of the counts and was sentenced in April 2019 to 51 months in prison and four years supervised release
  • Timothy Mark Grady, 43, Bryson City – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine: Sentenced on that single count in April 2019 to 70 months in prison and three years supervised release
  • Kandace Rhean Griffin, 29, Cherokee – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance that is Oxycodone (two counts), Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of heroin: Pled to possession with intent to distribute Oxy. Sentenced in January 2019 to 12 months and three years supervised release
  • Kenneth Dean Griffin, 51, Cherokee – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine: Pled guilty to three charges and was sentenced in February 2019 to 12 months and a day and three years of supervised release.
  • Kevin Dewayne Huskey, 47, Bryson City – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine: Sentenced in February 2019 to 24 months and three years supervised release for PID of meth.
  • Saryna Michelle Miller, 22, Bryson City – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine: Pled guilty to one of the counts and was sentenced in April 2019 to 48 months in prison and four years supervised release
  • Jeremy Dwayne Morton, 21, Bryson City- Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine: Pled guilty to one count and is awaiting sentencing
  • Javier Fernando Perez, 27, Norcross, Ga. – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine: Charges pending
  • David William Smith, 30, Sylva – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine (two counts): Sentenced in April 2019 to 77 months and four years of supervised release
  • Dee Anna Wike, 45, Cherokee – Possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine (two counts); Manufacturing or distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, methamphetamine on premises where children are present or reside: Pled guilty to one count of PID methamphetamine. Sentencing is set for July 30.
print