WAYNESBORO, Tenn. — A multi-state investigation in methamphetamine distribution has led to the indictment of more than a dozen meth users and "upper level dealers' suspected of bringing over 100 pounds of the drug into Wayne County, Sheriff Shane Fisher said.
Fisher said the indictments are the result of a year-long investigation that involved the sheriff's office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force and the 22nd District Attorney's Office.
“We will pursue any and all bringing methamphetamine into Wayne County," the sheriff said. "They will be arrested and prosecuted before a jury of Wayne County citizens who have been tormented by the epidemic proportions of methamphetamine being brought into our county — no matter where they are from."
According to Fisher, a Wayne County grand jury returned indictments against the following defendants: Darrell Alonzo “Choppo” White, Raymond Charles Inman, Marilyn Skaggs, Michael Shane Risner, Michael Tilley, Shayna Nicole McDonald, Miranda Haggard, Lois Ritenour, Luke Freemon, Brian Keith Smith, Roy Dee Horton, April Rumbaugh and Sandra Satterfield.
The sheriff said Satterfield remains at large.
"Those arrested were not just users, but upper-level dealers suspected of bringing in over 100 pounds of methamphetamine to Wayne County," Fisher said.
Fisher said White, who was one of the main meth distributors, is from Lauderdale County. He is being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center.
"We brought him up Monday for arraignment and carried him back," Fisher said. "He was the main one selling it, and they were bringing it up here."
Chuck Hearn, an investigator with the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force, said White is well known in the area. He has been in the Lauderdale County Detention Center since September on unrelated charges of trafficking heroin and unlawful possession of controlled substances. His bond is $51,000
"We're very familiar with him," Hearn said. "He's lived in our area for a while."
He said Tennessee authorities contacted them about a suspected drug dealer, but only had a nickname. Lauderdale County officials were familiar with "Choppo" and provided them with his full name.
Hearn said the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force and state drug agents found 3 1/2 pounds of ice after executing a search warrant on Sept. 17 on a business owned by White in Florence.
Fisher said some of the methamphetamine being distributed in Wayne County came from northwest Alabama.
"It's originating from down there," Fisher said. "All the meth is coming from down there."
Fisher said while there are others bringing the drug into Wayne County, the recent arrests will have an impact on meth distribution in the county.
"It slowed down this organization, but there's more and more coming in," the sheriff said. "This is the first step."
According to a Sheriff's Department news release, removing illegal drugs from Wayne County remains a top priority for Fisher and his department.
"This is just another step towards that goal," he said.
The investigation was dubbed "Project Omerta." Omerta is an Italian word meaning "code of silence," often used to describe the Mafia's code of silence concerning criminal activity and the refusal to give evidence to authorities.