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Seven Johnson Countians arrested in huge state and federal meth roundup

Law enforcement from Johnson County recently participated in an endeavor that encompassed both state and federal representatives in an eight agency law enforcement roundup of both dealers and producers of methamphetamine known was Operation Salt Vegas. There is no significance to the name of the operation chosen by federal agents. The investigation centered on two separate methamphetamine organizations in both southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. Thirty-two arrests were made, including seven from Johnson County.
According to Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece, at 4:00 am on Wednesday morning, April 16, 2014, 80 agents from as far away as Miami, Florida, Texas, Virginia and Washington, DC were among those who formed multiple teams that participated in Operation Salt Vegas. Locally, law enforcement from Russell, Smyth and Washington counties in Virginia, as well as Carter and Johnson counties in Tennessee participated in the sting, along with the Virginia State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
The multi-agency investigation on what Reece referred to as “the big players” began in 2011. “This is organized crime,” Reece said. According to Reece, investigations of this kind are often lengthy. The sheriff’s department receives calls reporting heavy traffic at various residences and Reece realizes citizens become frustrated when they don’t see the sheriff or deputies immediately come out to investigate. According to Reece, the department may be well aware of the situation and have been watching the property for a while while conducting an investigation. “It’s a lot of work,” he said.
Those arrested in Johnson County include: Richard Rick Shaw, 58, of T. Greer Road; James C. Grindstaff, 48 of Pedro Shoun Lane; Daniel Reece, 44 of West Main Street; Timothy B. Gerace, 54 of Highway 91; Albert Hague, 56 of Waddell Road; Linda Walters, 44 of Bulldog Road and Kimberly Bradley, unknown age and address.
According to Sheriff Reece, more than $250,000 in currency and assets were seized and include guns, five ATVs, two motorcycles, two cars, two SUVS, one watercraft, one tractor, one mini excavator, as well as methamphetamine. According to Reece, those arrested who own the property taken during the arrests can petition the court to have their property returned to them. The cost to request this hearing is $350 and is held in Fall Branch, Tennessee. The court then decides whether the county can keep the property or if it must be returned. The owners of the property must be able to show payment for the items or the property will awarded to the county.
The items seized are sold on govdeals.com. The monies from the sale are then used for the drug fund, set up to be used exclusively to combat drugs in the county or purchase equipment related to undercover operations. It also pays the salary of two drug agents. Johnson County does not put any money into the drug fund.
Pictures were not available as the suspects were arrested and booked into jail in Abingdon, Virginia. According to Reece, they will be arraigned and sent to federal court in Virginia for prosecution. If convicted, time served will be in the federal prison system.