Accompanied by his mother, Olivia Swafford, James W. Swafford Jr. prepares to turn himself in to police on Thursday. Swafford faces the most and most serious charges in an indictment returned by a specially called session of the Sullivan County grand jur
Accompanied by his mother, Olivia Swafford, James W. Swafford Jr. prepares to turn himself in to police on Thursday. Ned Jilton II photo.
BLOUNTVILLE - Law enforcement officers from five states spent much of Thursday rounding up 20 people charged in what officials called the largest drug indictment in Sullivan County's history.
Some of the charges go back eight years, as investigators discovered allegations from 1998 during a two-year probe into an alleged drug distribution operation run by James W. Swafford Jr., aka Jimmie, aka DJ Jimmie, that collectively involved more than 700 pounds of marijuana being brought into and distributed in Sullivan County.
The probe stretched from Tennessee to Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas and involved wiretapping so investigators could gather enough evidence to charge those who allegedly participated in the operation.
Swafford faces the most and most serious charges in the indictment, returned Thursday by a specially called session of the Sullivan County grand jury, District Attorney General Greeley Wells said at a midafternoon press conference.
Swafford was jailed on charges of criminal conspiracy to distribute or sell over 300 pounds of marijuana, criminal conspiracy to distribute or sell over 300 grams of cocaine, possession of over 10 pounds of marijuana for resale or delivery, possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of the window tinting law, five counts sale or delivery of over half an ounce of marijuana, two counts of sale or delivery of over 26 grams of cocaine, possession of over 26 grams of cocaine for sale or delivery within 1,000 feet of a school, and sale or delivery of over half a gram of cocaine.
Other charges Swafford faces are two counts of sales tax fraud stemming from the operation of Club 229 and Wyde Open Records, theft over $10,000 and theft over $1,000, and five counts of money laundering.
In addition to Swafford, former Kingsport police officer Chris Smith - who Interim Chief Gale Osborne said was allowed to resign instead of being fired last September - was indicted on two counts of official misconduct and one count of conspiracy to sell or deliver over 300 pounds of marijuana.
Wells said one of the official misconduct charges stems from Smith allegedly failing to make a DUI arrest, and the other count involved him allegedly obtaining information as a police officer and then relaying that information to Swafford "to prevent detection of drug activity."
Others charged in the conspiracy to sell or deliver over 300 pounds of marijuana and who had been arrested by Thursday afternoon were:
•Travis Adams, 305 Horseshoe Bend Road, Kingsport;
•Jamie Beard, 1310 Frank St., Kingsport;
•Jamie Farrington, 305 Holly St., Apt. 1, Johnson City;
•Jason Haywood, 92 Summerville Road, Kingsport;
•Johnny Hicks, 328 Horseshoe Bend Road, Kingsport;
•Gregory Travis Smith, Sullivan County Jail;
•Lamont Jones, 3828 Summit Drive, Kingsport;
• Brad Kelly, 4150 Ridge Road, Kingsport;
•Michael Maxwell, 389 Pond Springs Road, Kingsport;
•Eric Wilson, Sullivan County Jail;
•Latwan Wolfe, 340 Wheatley St., Kingsport.
Efren Johnson, Atlanta, Ga., was arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on the same charge, Wells said.
Jones also faces charges of criminal conspiracy to sell or distribute over 300 grams of cocaine, sale or delivery of over 26 grams of cocaine and sale or delivery of over half a gram of cocaine.
Wells said nine other people were indicted on charges of selling drugs, but not the conspiracy charge.
Those people are:
•Brett Alvis, 1406 Skyland Drive, Johnson City, two counts of sale or delivery of over half an ounce of marijuana;
•Carrie Prater, two counts of sale or delivery of over half an ounce of marijuana;
•Tyree Lamont Williams, Sullivan County Jail, five counts of selling and delivering over half a gram of cocaine.
Wells said the investigation was complex and involved hundreds of man hours.
"The logistics of an investigation like this is such that you can't do it in a very fast manner. The timing of the indictments has to do with the time it took to sift through the extensive evidence we had available to us," Wells said.