The News-Herald reported that the 9th Judicial District Drug Task Force received the Drug Unit of the Year award at the annual meeting of the Tennessee Narcotic Officers Association. The 9th Judicial District Drug Task Force operates of out District Attorney General Russell Johnson’s office. In its many accomplishments this year, the Roane County News credited this task force for busting a large-scale pill ring in May 2018. At that time, law enforcement seized 10,000 pills, 49 guns, tactical body armor, illegal steroids, more than $38,000 in cash and a cash-counting machine.
This case began after the interception of two packages mailed from Canada to a residence in Kingston that contained over 5,000 pills. Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), 9th Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Service all took part in the execution of the search warrant on the home. Follow-up reporting by Roane County News illuminated even more details in this case.
A narrative filed in court in the forfeiture for this case stated that “On or about May 17, 2018, Deputy Director Brendan DeBoer with the 9th Judicial Drug Task Force received a telephone call from a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations regarding two packages that were intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.” Both packages contained thousands of alprazolam pills shipped from an address in Montreal, Canada.
Just three days later, Homeland Security Investigations received notification about another package inbound from Canada that contained 2,670 additional alprazolam pills. Law enforcement knew the address the package was to be delivered to. In 2017, agents with the 9th Judicial Drug Task Force arrested two people at that time for receiving packages of drugs, one of whom was Drew McClure. This time, agents arrested Sherry and Mitchell McClure, Drew’s parents. Both Sherry and Mitchell denied knowing about the drugs and Mitchell said he knew nothing about the over $38,000 in their bedroom closet.
According to Roane County General Sessions Court records, Agent DeBoer asserted that there was enough probable cause to make the property subject to forfeiture. The forfeiture narrative stated that “the money located is believed to be the proceeds from the sale of illegal narcotics. Sherry McClure, her husband, and son are believed to be funding their lifestyle through the sale of these illegal drug narcotics. The vehicles seized are also believed to be acquired and maintained through the sale of these same drugs. There were over 10,000 alprazolam pills seized in this investigation from four different packages.”
Despite law enforcement finding some of the pills in their bedroom closet, both Sherry and Mitchell denied having any knowledge of how they got there. Both also denied knowing there was a money counting machine in there as well, and Sherry stated that the over $38,000 in cash found in that room was an advance from her bank. This case against the McClures is currently making its way through the court system.
During the awards ceremony, it was mentioned that this bust in Roane County was one of the largest pill distribution operations the area has ever seen. Hundreds of thousands of real and counterfeit opioids and antidepressants were being shipped there. Deputy Director DeBoer said receiving the award was a “huge honor.” “A lot of the times a lot of our cases they go unknown for the most part,” DeBoer said. “A lot of our work is done, it’s outside of the news and outside of the press in order to try to eliminate as many drug dealers and drug organizations in our community as we can. Most of the officers and agents that work with us on a daily basis just do it because they love to do it rather than to receive any recognition for it.”