The drugs reportedly seized in Tuesday morning's arrests. Photo courtesy of the SCSO.
A short police pursuit and a woman found hiding in a basement led to the seizure of a large quantity of "gravel" at a Kingsport motel, according to police.
The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office reports receiving information that two people were transporting the drug into the area from out of state. Local police have been seeing an influx of the new street drug over the past several months, with early lab results reveal the rock-like substance contains alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone, a synthetic stimulant acting on the cardiovascular and central nervous system.
At approximately 2 a.m. Monday, the suspects' vehicle was allegedly spotted leaving a home on Fall Creek Road in Kingsport. When officers attempted to conduct a stop, the driver allegedly accelerated and turned up a driveway that led to a home on Childress Ferry Road.
Police say the occupants abandoned the car with the resident coming outside to say he didn't know who it belonged to. Detectives reportedly located the car keys and a piece of ripped denim on a barbed wire fence behind the home, while a piece of plywood was observed to have been pulled away from a basement opening to make access.
Police say they found Beverly D. Henson, 39, of Fox Road in Chuckey, Tenn., lying in the basement. She told police the male driver of the car that fled the attempted traffic stop had left her, claiming she didn't know who he was.
Henson then led police to the Sleep Inn off Airport Parkway, where she had been staying with her sister, Melissa Williams, 37, of Kelley Gap Road, Greeneville. Police say they received consent to search their room, locating various drug paraphernalia, cash and a "large quantity" of gravel.
The street value of gravel located in the room is estimated to be $8,400. The SCSO previously told the Times-News that the drug is selling for between $80 and $200 a gram.
Henson was arrested and charged with aggravated burglary, evading arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia, while Williams was arrested on a variety of drug charges.
Police say an investigation into the incident is ongoing with additional charges pending.
Both Kingsport and Sullivan County police have said gravel's key ingredient is being purchased in large quantities from overseas. Local dealers then add other drugs or ammonia to make their own batches of the rock-like substance.
Kingsport police have seized some bags of the pure alpha-PVP, according to KPD Vice Det. Nathan Elliott, but they display no maker’s mark and are simply labeled “plant fertilizer."