MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Twenty-five defendants are facing charges of conspiracy to distribute more than 300 grams of cocaine and more than 70 pounds of marijuana following a long-term investigation by the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.
Teams of Sheriff’s Office detectives and deputies rounded up 15 of the 25 suspects Friday after a Rutherford County grand jury issued the sealed indictments earlier this month.
The investigation launched in July 2012, which led to the University Street neighborhood in Murfreesboro.
In the summer of 2013, Sheriff Robert Arnold received complaints from law-abiding residents about drug trafficking and shootings in the same neighborhood.
“We take the complaints from citizens about drug-trafficking and violence very seriously,” Arnold said. “We want to make sure people feel safe in their neighborhoods and children are protected from firearms and violence.”
Detective Richard Williams said the case consisted of a 15-month investigation into a structured organization to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana that led to the indictments of 25 people on 27 charges.
As part of the investigation, a joint team of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, which included investigators from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, served 13 search warrants simultaneously on Sept. 7 throughout Rutherford County and Nashville.
Sgt. Tony Hall, a Rutherford County narcotics detective, said officers recovered more than $45,000 worth of illegal drugs and seized about $160,000 in cash, 15 weapons, 27 vehicles, a boat and electronic equipment.
“The violence that caused an outcry for help from the sheriff was mostly gun related,” Hall said.
Detectives reportedly confiscated an AR-15 rifle from 32-year-old Marcus M. Nelson, of Nahanee Court in Murfreesboro. Nelson is a convicted felon.
Williams said the majority of the suspects indicted are repeat offenders.
“Some are convicted felons with guns and stolen guns,” he said. “If you are a convicted felon, you can’t possess a firearm or be in a house with a gun.”
Many of the suspects indicted do not hold part- or full-time jobs.
“Their job on a daily basis is to sell highly addictive narcotics to narcotics addicts,” Williams said. “That’s how they fund extravagant lifestyles, off the proceeds of the sales of highly addictive narcotics.”
After the search warrants were served, the amount of illegal sales of cocaine and marijuana were disrupted for a few days, officials said.
“It’s going to have an impact on people,” Williams said. “It’s not going to stop it, but it will change the community for the better.”
The investigation remains in progress and more indictments are anticipated, according to officials with the Sheriff’s Office.
Both Nelson and Torre L. Knox, 39, who lives on Lytle Creek Road near Murfreesboro, were indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute more than 300 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute more than 70 pounds of marijuana.
Some of the other suspects indicted in the drug bust include Murfreesboro residents Ingrid S. Espinoza, 36, of Nahanee Street, 46-year-old Kimberly Baker, of East Sevier Street, Elliot J. Dumas Jr., 27, of Hunt Street, Tameka S. Nelson, 36, and Patrick E. Haynes, 53, both of whom live in the University Street area, and Bridge Avenue resident Levarus D. Martin, 31, were also arrested.
Murfreesboro residents Kiricca K. Alsup, 25, of Drexel Court, Michael S. Cantrell, 35, of Wingate Street, and Muriel A. Windrow Glimps, who lives in the 1800 block of Old Lascassas Road, are also facing charges in connection with the case.
Reginald Lavon Cooper, 30, and Kentory Sanders, 33, both of Nashville, have also been indicted.
All of the suspects who have been arrested and charged in connection with the drug bust are being held on a $100,000 bond at the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center.
They are scheduled to in Rutherford County Circuit Court this week.
Arnold said he appreciated the efforts of the narcotics detectives who worked additional nights and weekends away from their families to conduct the investigation.
“The Narcotics Unit detectives were vigilant in conducting a thorough investigation into the complaints,” Arnold said. “We appreciate their dedication and thank the officers from other agencies who assisted in serving search warrants and apprehending these defendants. We also recognize the communications staff for their support that was instrumental in this lengthy investigation.”