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Big-league meth ring taken down

A multi-county investigation led by the Warren County Sheriff’s Department has resulted in several arrests in what law enforcement officials are calling a big-league drug trafficking ring.

“We seized over a kilogram of meth during this investigation,” said Sheriff Tommy Myers. “This is what we call a drug trafficking network where high-level dealers sell to lower-level dealers to get meth on the street. It was such a large operation, we’ve gotten federal charges against three of the suspects.”

Kerry Shane Smith, Larry Alan Hale and Kory Smith all face federal charges for distribution of meth. Others have been charged at the local level in what was a year-long investigation.

Federal sentences run much longer than state and local sentences with offenders typically having to serve 90% of their time before chance of release. For comparison, those sentenced at the state level usually have to serve about 30% of their time before release.

Kerry Smith, 57, was reportedly found with 662 grams of pure meth at his home on Simerly Lane in the Centertown area, according to deputy Jared Jacobs. A search warrant was executed at his home.

“It is extremely rare to find that much pure meth,” said Jacobs. “It was tested by the DEA and found to be 95% pure and that’s with a plus or minus of 6% which means it could be 100% meth. To find that much meth, at that level of potency, is alarming.”

The Sheriff’s Department, in conjunction with the TBI and DEA, executed three search warrants simultaneously at three separate locations so suspects couldn’t warn each another or dispose of drugs.

The home of Kory Smith in Cannon County was also targeted at that time and 52 grams of pure meth was reportedly recovered. The home of Russell “Cotton” Jennings was also searched at the same time and meth and packaging material were reportedly seized.

“We’ve been very quiet about all this,” said Sheriff Myers. “The quieter the better. It allows us to get bigger drug trafficking organizations taken out by operating in this manner.”

Officers say Larry Hale, 39, is affiliated with the drug trafficking ring. A traffic stop of Hale produced 50 grams of meth and marijuana, according to law enforcement, and resulted in a search warrant for his home in Centertown where an additional 300 grams of meth was found along with 60 Oxycodone pills.

The overall drug operation has resulted in a number of seized vehicles and the seizure of close to $25,000.

“That money goes right back into fighting the drug problem in our area,” said Jacobs. “I can’t tell you how many guns we’ve seized along with all that, probably 200 guns in the past year. We trade those in and it helps our guys have the most up-to-date equipment.”