Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina announced Thursday that 76 people had been charged in a major law enforcement operation targeting drug trafficking in Indian Country, NC.
The undercover operation, led by the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Opioid Reduction Task Force, in coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Cherokee Indian Police Department and multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, began in March 2018, and aimed at disrupting and dismantling drug distribution networks operating in and around the Qualla Boundary, according to a news release.
More than 3.8 pounds of heroin and Fentanyl; more than 18 pounds of methamphetamine; over 270 Fentanyl and Oxycodone tablets; and more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, with a combined street value of over $1.82 million, was taken off the streets during the operation.
“The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a community that has been hard hit by the opioid epidemic. Drug distribution, drug-fueled crimes, and drug abuse pose a grave threat to the safety, stability, cultural preservation, and well-being of the tribal community,” U.S. Attorney Murray stated in a news release. “The Justice Department and my office are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to stem the flow of drugs onto the Qualla Boundary, and to reduce the opioid abuse epidemic that has devastated Indian Country.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said 12 of the suspects also face federal charges.
Those suspects are identified as:
- Dontavius Juan Cox, 26, of Sylva, N.C.
- Derek Wilson Driver, 26, of Cherokee, N.C.
- David Charles Fisher, 56, of Bryson City, N.C.
- Timothy Mark Grady, 43, Bryson City, N.C.
- Kandace Rhean Griffin, 29, of Cherokee, N.C.
- Kenneth Dean Griffin, 51, Cherokee, N.C.
- Kevin Dewayne Huskey, 47, of Bryson City, N.C.
- Saryna Michelle Miller, 22, of Bryson City, N.C.
- Jeremy Dwayne Morton, 21, of Bryson City, N.C.
- Javier Fernando Perez, 27, of Norcross, Georgia.
- David William Smith, 30, of Sylva, N.C.
- Dee Anna Wike, 45, of Cherokee, N.C.