KINGPSORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – 11 people, eight of whom are from either Kingsport or Johnson City, have been apprehended after a federal grand jury indicted them on charges for their roles in distributing heroin in Northeast Tennessee.
“This operation targeted a network of individuals believed to be responsible for bringing heroin into the area from out-of-state sources of supply, and then distributing it in the Tri-Cities area,” the release reads.
According to a release from the United States Department of Justice, the following people have been indicted:
Jonathan Bryant Taylor, also known as “Marquis”, 45, of Charlotte, North Carolina;
Kendall Pitts, also known as “Face”, 44, of Raleigh, North Carolina;
Rodney Jenkins, also known as “Unk”, 54, of Brooklyn, New York;
Ricky Allen Overbay, 59, of Kingsport, Tennessee;
Angela Beth Bernard, 37, of Kingsport, Tennessee;
Tessa Rae Hines, 39, of Kingsport, Tennessee;
Cierra Brionna Long, 25, of Kingsport, Tennessee;
Bethany Kay Childress, 51, of Kingsport, Tennessee;
Alexander Shamell Powell, also known as “Big Mike”, 43, of Kingsport, Tennessee;
Clarence L. Benjamin, also known as “Streets”, 43, of Johnson City, Tennessee;
Kirk Estes, 61, of Kingsport, Tennessee
The release says the case was unsealed on January 4, 2021 after the last defendant was apprehended. The 12-count indictment was returned on August 4, 2020.
According to the DOJ, a trial date has not been set yet for the case.
Authorities say that each of the indicted individuals was “involved in a conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin in the Eastern District of Tennessee and elsewhere.”
The defendants are also facing other charges related to the possession and distribution of heroin.
Cierra Long is also charged with distribution a quantity of fentanyl, while Clarence Benjamin is additionally charged with possessing with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Jonathan Taylor also faces a firearm charge.
The release says that if any of the defendants are convicted of their heroin conspiracy charge, each will face a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment of at least 10 years and up to life, at least five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $10 million, any applicable forfeiture and a $100 special assessment.
Benjamin and Taylor could additional imprisonment terms and fines if convicted on the firearm charges.
The indictment follows an investigation by law enforcement agencies based in and around Kingsport, according to the release.
The department says the following agencies were involved in the heroin conspiracy investigation:
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office
Kingsport Police Department
Fourth Judicial Drug Task Force
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
Tennessee National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force
Tennessee Highway Patrol
Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office
Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Task Force
United States Marshal Service
Homeland Security Investigations
Drug Enforcement Administration
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Federal Bureau of Investigation
You can read the full DOJ release below:
Taylor Indictment Press Release by WJHL News Channel Eleven on Scribd