WJHL.com - Sullivan County has third most meth offenders on state registry

Sullivan County has third most meth offenders on state registry

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A review of the Tennessee Meth Offender Registry revealed Sullivan County has added more meth offenders to the registry than all but two other counties in Tennessee.

Much like a sex offender registry, Tennessee's meth offender registry is also available to the public. Legislators created the registry in 2006, mostly to help police curb the state's meth problem. After all, Tennessee routinely ranks number one in the nation for meth labs.

"It was created as part of the Meth Free Tennessee Act in 2006," Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Public Information Officer Kristin Helm said. "Last year it was updated with additional offenses related to meth where people are required to register. Originally, it was only convictions of meth manufacturing."

Since 2006, the number of names on the registry has grown to almost 4,000. After seven years on the registry, an offender is removed automatically.

Names on the Registry 
  • Sullivan 183
  • Hawkins 92
  • Johnson 63
  • Carter 50
  • Greene 18
  • Washington 7
  • Unicoi 1

According to that registry, Sullivan County has the third most meth offenders in the state with 183. Sullivan County only trails behind Warren (237) and Bradley counties (199) when it comes to the number of meth offenders listed.

Although it sounds bad, prosecutors and investigators say that number three ranking is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus is proud of the ranking.

"I think we're third because of the aggressiveness of our prosecution efforts," Staubus said. "When you have proactive agencies that are aggressive in their investigation, they're well trained and they coordinate and work together, that's what you get. You get a higher number and more successful investigations that lead to more and more prosecutions."

Over the last few years, the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office says it has dedicated two undercover agents to focus on meth and meth alone.

The district attorney says that has paid off with a significant jump in the number of meth arrests. In fact, more than 75% of the names added to the meth registry in Sullivan County were added over the last three years.

So why the big focus on meth in Sullivan County? For one, Staubus says it spurs other crimes like robberies and thefts, but more importantly, the district attorney says unlike other drugs, meth is not imported. Instead, it is made in cars and homes in our area.

Staubus knows that recipe could lead to serious health problems or even death for people who just so happen to be nearby, especially if the concoction explodes.

"The surrounding homes can be destroyed, can be contaminated and a lot of these people who make this stuff, cook this stuff, have children," Staubus said. "In some ways, meth has more far reaching effects than any other drug. If it explodes, if it goes wrong, you can kill lots of innocent people. It has a lot of effects on families."

Undercover agents say Bristol used to be home to the most meth busts, but in recent years they say Kingsport has caught up.

Investigators say countywide, things quieted down when synthetic drugs became popular, but since the state banned drugs like bath salts the number of meth finds has skyrocketed again.

Although Sullivan County has a high number of meth busts, it is not alone.

In our region Hawkins County ranks second with 92 listed names on the meth offender registry, followed by Johnson County with 63, Carter County with 50, Greene County with 18, Washington County with seven and Unicoi County with one.

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