ROGERSVILLE - The Hawkins County Sheriff's Office seized a large quantity of cocaine, cash and a 1993 Lexus Wednesday as a result of a traffic stop on Route 66 south of Rogersville.
Arrested in the traffic stop were the driver, Andrew Alexander Dyson, 38, 430 W. Economy Road, Morristown; and his passenger, Shane Deon Collins, 32, 2355 Buffalo Trail, Morristown.
The traffic stop conducted about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday was actually part of a Narcotics Unit investigation that was initiated thanks to information received through an informant.
Sheriff Roger Christian said a tipster indicated that Dyson and an accomplice would be transporting cocaine into Hawkins County Wednesday afternoon from Morristown.
"Our informant gave us a description of the Lexus that the suspect would be driving and indicated he would be in possession of cocaine and coming into our county at that time," Christian said. "Based on that information, we had Narcotics Unit officers waiting on him, and we stopped the vehicle when he came through. Upon stopping the vehicle we had probable cause to conduct a search and seized approximately 10 grams of cocaine, $8,153 in cash and the vehicle."
The cocaine had a street value of about $1,000. Dyson and Collins were both charged with possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.
At the time of his arrest, Dyson was free on bond from the Hamblen County Jail due to pending drug charges there. He was lodged in the Hawkins County Jail without bond.
Collins remained in jail as of Wednesday evening on $2,000 bond.
Christian said Wednesday's arrest affirms what law enforcement agencies have been predicting in recent months, that cocaine is making a "comeback" in the region. The reason for the comeback is a drastic reduction in availability of methamphetamine due to successes of area law enforcement in catching manufacturers combined with state legislation making it difficult to obtain the ingredients.
"We have information that huge quantities of methamphetamine is being manufactured in Mexico and is heading this way, although we haven't seen it in our county as of yet," Christian said. "Supposedly it's a lower quality meth than what is made here at home. We haven't completely eliminated meth manufacturing here, but we're seeing that the operations are now on a much smaller scale, with small meth labs utilizing a jar or similar size container.
"The trend now seems to be more and more cocaine coming in to fill the void that has been created in the methamphetamine market."