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TWO GEORGIA MEN ARRESTED FOLLOWING CONCLUSION OF NARCOTICS INVESTIGATION

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MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong announced investigators with the Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force arrested two Georgia men on felony drug charges following a several month-long investigation involving the distribution of crystal methamphetamine.

The following individuals were taken into custody:

• Martin Padilla-Mora, 26, of Forest Park, Georgia.
• Bernard Ramirez-Sanchez, 40, of Atlanta, Georgia.

Both men were each charged with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance (crystal methamphetamine) for resale in a drug free zone and possession of a weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony. Padilla-Mora and Ramirez-Sanchez are both being held in the Blount County Detention Facility on bonds totaling $125,000 each pending hearings in Blount County General Sessions Court Wednesday, March 22 at 9 a.m. Investigators and Sheriff’s Office deputies took the men into custody at a business on U.S. Highway 321 West shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday.

These arrests were made at the conclusion of a several month-long investigation by the Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force. Sheriff Berrong said for the last two years, heroin and methamphetamine have become especially prevalent in our area. This case is a perfect example of the type and quantities that are flowing into our jurisdiction. During a search of the suspects’ vehicle during Thursday’s arrest, investigators found two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine, along with two loaded handguns. The crystal methamphetamine pictured in the attached photos was being sold to undercover officers at a wholesale price of $20,000 ($10,000 a kilo), which has a street value of approximately $200,000 (when sold for $100 a gram). The collateral damage is the crimes that are committed by persons using the drugs. Associated crimes are thefts, burglaries, and robberies, to name only a few. Property-related crimes throughout Blount County have been on the rise over the last several years, and it is a direct reflection of drug addiction. In terms of impact to Blount County citizens, this street value of $200,000 is multiplied when you take into consideration that stolen property is often traded for pennies on the dollar. The drug dealers will later sell the stolen property for an additional profit.

In 2016, there were over 2,000 cases assigned to the Sheriff’s Office Investigations function, with more than 300 additional drug cases initiated by investigators. While this has become an epidemic, investigators continue to work together sharing information, paying particular attention to the upper-level distributors that make the largest impact on our community.

The Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force is comprised of investigators and staff from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Maryville Police Department, Alcoa Police Department, and the Office of the Attorney General.

PICTURED: TWO KILOS OF CRYSTAL METHEMPHETAMINE ALONG WITH TWO HANDGUNS WERE SEIZED DURING THE ARRESTS.

ARRESTED THURSDAY (L TO R):

BERNARD RAMIREZ SANCHEZ AND MARTIN PADILLA-MORA