published Friday, April 19th, 2013

14 from East Tennessee and North Georgia face drug, firearms charges

ARRESTED

• Each of the following had an initial court appearance on April 16: Anthony Long, 41, of Chatsworth, Ga.; Sarah McElhannon, 44, and Robin Welch, 42, both of Copperhill, Tenn.; Paula Price, 41, Jeremy Gambles, 42, Randy Greene, 48, and Paul Gribble, 48, all of Turtletown, Tenn.; Tracy Mason, 48, of McCaysville, Ga.; Jose Manual Juarez-Gonzalez, 37, of Ellenwood, Ga.; and Hector De La Torre, 50, of Atlanta.

• The following remain in custody awaiting arraignment: Corey Welch, 39, of Copperhill; Dennis Glover, 60, of Ranger, Ga.; Melinda Adams, 24, of McCaysville; and Mitchell Hughes, 38, of Farner, Tenn.

Fourteen people from East Tennessee and North Georgia have been arrested on federal drug and firearms charges.

All are alleged to be participants in a large, multistate methamphetamine trafficking organization, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee states.

"Once you can dismantle an organization like this one, it is a success and sends a message that we will not tolerate this drug problem and we are aggressively addressing it," said Tommy Farmer, director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force.

"Tennessee has battled a tremendous meth problem for more than 12 years now," Farmer said. "The task force is combating meth use through awareness and enforcement, everything we have but the kitchen sink."

Other arrests are pending, according to the news release from the U.S. attorney's office.

Sharry Dedman-Beard, public information officer for that office, said no one there could comment until the case goes to trial on June 25.

The trial will be in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga.

The investigation leading to the indictment and subsequent arrests was handled by agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the 10th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Bay will prosecute.

Contact Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@gmail.com.

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