GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On October 3, 2018, Trinity Scott Johnson, 39, of Morristown, Tennessee, was sentenced by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Court Judge, to serve 17 years in federal prison. Johnson pleaded guilty in July 2018 to conspiracy to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine (meth) or “Ice” and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.
In February 2018, following an investigation conducted by the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department, a suspicious person report to police caused Johnson to be arrested at an unoccupied residence in Morristown, Tennessee. When officers arrived, it appeared that the front door of the residence had been kicked in and Johnson was leaving the residence.
During a consent search of that residence, officers found a plastic grocery bag containing a large sealed bag of meth, a black bag containing four separate bags of meth, a camera case containing another bag of meth, a glass jar containing 15 bags of marijuana, and another separate bag of marijuana. The meth was field tested and weighed 1,169 grams. The marijuana weighed 25 grams. Officers also found drug paraphernalia, digital scales, two pistols, 17 guns, two shotgun barrels, numerous shotgun shells, 9mm rounds, and three .380 caliber rounds of ammunition in the residence. Johnson was interviewed and admitted ownership of the meth.
Johnson said he began using and selling gram quantities of meth in August 2016. After his first supplier was arrested, he found a new supplier who provided him larger quantities of meth. He admitted to purchasing ounce and half-kilogram quantities of meth from his second supplier on multiple occasions for approximately six months. After this supplier was arrested, Johnson found a third supplier who provided half-kilogram quantities of meth. Over the next six months, he purchased multiple half-kilograms of meth from the third supplier, until that supplier was also arrested.
While dealing with the third supplier Johnson met his fourth supplier who sold kilogram and half-kilograms of meth to him. Johnson stated that he always paid cash, $11,000 for a half-kilogram of meth, but could not recall how many times he purchased half-kilograms from this fourth supplier. He estimated he purchased at least 15, but not as many as 20, kilograms of meth from this supplier.
Johnson consented to a search of his residence in Morristown, Tennessee. During that search, officers located a safe in the bedroom closet containing seven guns and ammunition, 13 bags of meth, 12 bags of marijuana, a bag of cocaine, and drug paraphernalia (digital scales, empty bags, pipes). Field weight of the methamphetamine was 175.4 grams, field weight of the marijuana was 194.7 grams, and field weight of the cocaine was 8.1 grams.
All of Johnson’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty to offenses related to this conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing. Truman Lee Jones, 33, of Russellville, Tennessee, is set to be sentenced on November 11, 2018, and faces 10 years to life in federal prison. Amanda Marie Hilton, 36, of Whitesburg, Tennessee, is set to be sentenced on November 19, 2018, and faces five to 40 years in federal prison. Colby McGwire Scarlett, 20, of Morristown, Tennessee, faces 10 years to life in federal prison and is set to be sentenced on January 6, 2019. Jessica James, 30, of Morristown, Tennessee, also faces 10 years to life in federal prison and is set to be sentenced on February 6, 2019. Finally, sentencing for Megan Gilliam, 25, of Morristown, Tennessee, is set for February 11, 2019. She also faces 10 years to life in federal prison.
Agencies involved in this investigation included the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department and FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert. M. Reeves represented the United States in court proceedings. This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
This case was also the result of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.