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Record Crack Cocaine Bust In Sweetwater

Staff photo by Tommy Millsaps
From left: Sweetwater Police Chief Eddie Byrum and SPD
Narcotics Officer Marty Kyle display the crack cocaine
seized in a raid that led to the arrest of seven people
Saturday. Police said they found three very large pieces of
crack cocaine that had not been cut.
Last updated: 12:10 PM, 04/01/2009
 

Author: Tommy Millsaps
Source: The Monroe County Advocate

Police say he lived the highlife with fancy cars, $1,100
blue jeans, giant TVs and "Scarface" movie memorabilia
throughout his house.

He did not have a job.

But the man police say was probably the biggest drug
dealer in the county could face years in federal prison if
convicted of selling crack cocaine.

Sweetwater Police Chief Eddie Byrum coached 20-year-old
Jermaine Blair as a youngster in youth league sports and
says he was a quiet, polite young man and Blair is not a
drug user himself.

But Sweetwater Police believe they pulled off the largest
crack cocaine bust in the county and the Tenth Judicial
District's history when they allegedly found more than a
pound and a half of crack cocaine during a drug raid at
Blair's 208 Fair Street home Saturday evening.

Blair is facing a $250,000 bond after being charged with
possession of a Schedule II drug for resale.

"It's a big relief," SPD Narcotics Officer Marty Kyle said of
Blair's arrest that could land him at least 160 months in
federal prison if convicted.

Kyle said assistance from patrol units and Monroe County
Sheriff's Narcotics Officer Conway Mason helped pull off
the historic bust.

"We never expected to find that much," Kyle said of all the
drugs seized. He said the amount was so large that some
other agencies did not believe it was possible to find so
much crack cocaine and the arrests could rank right up
there with East Tennessee and state records.

"You should try getting caught with it," is what Blair
allegedly told police as they took him into custody.
Kyle said Blair was smarter than most drug dealers and
had people under him moving the smaller amounts of
crack.

Six other people were charged with the same offense
when they were found within just a few feet of all the
cocaine in the home, police said.

Vickee Anne Blair, 39, Shauntay Marie Oggs, 27, George
Alex Blair, 35, Kevin Maurice Smith, 20, all of Sweetwater,
along with Jeffery Phillip Jackson, 24, Philadelphia, and
Antionette Shauntay Long, 23, from Hamilton County were
also charged with possession of a Schedule II drug for
resale.

Police said they caught the seven suspects in the act of
cooking the crack about 8:30 p.m. and because of the
large amount of drugs, authorities will attempt to
prosecute the case in federal court.

Other SPD officers on the scene included: Nick Farrell,
Kevin Watson, Barry Mathews, Chris Francis, John Scruggs
and Brandon Cansler.

SPD Detective Bill Illingworth had allegedly seen Jermaine
Blair buying a microwave used to cook the drugs earlier in
the day.
Police estimated the street value of the drugs to be close
to $30,000.
Investigators said they had been watching Jermaine Blair
for about a year. They suspect a lot of the drugs cooked
could have been on their way to Knoxville and
Chattanooga because it would have been too large for the
Sweetwater market.

At the home, authorities seized thousands of dollars
worth of TV and other electronic equipment and dozens of
expensive clothing items and shoes. Investigators said it
could take days to come up with the value of all the items
seized.

During the raid, authorities also seized more than $500 in
cash and four vehicles.

Byrum said he's glad to get the drugs off the street and
the arrest of the seven people hopefully sends a strong
message to the city's youth who might otherwise be
infatuated with the drug dealers' lifestyles.

He said neighbors in the area were glad to see police in
their community.

Kyle said the investigation into the scope of the drug
operation is ongoing but Jermaine Blair is not cooperating.
Tommy Millsaps can be reached at 337-7101 or
mcanews4@xtn.net.


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