A seven-year drug investigation recently netted a Sullivan Central High School teacher along with 22 other suspects from Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and Michigan.
Schools officials confirmed Thursday that Jennifer Mitchell, 38, is the consumer science teacher arrested Wednesday morning on charges of distributing OxyContin and marijuana from her Kingsport home.
“Appropriate action will be taken and I’m sure that it will come soon,” county schools Human Resources Director Larry Hall said.
Schools Supervisor Jubal Yennie confirmed late Thursday that Mitchell already has been suspended without pay.
News of Mitchell’s arrest came earlier in the day when federal and local law enforcement agencies announced the end of an investigation that has resulted in 500 arrests in multiple states since 2004.
Prosecutors and police gathered in the county’s court Thursday to report the arrest of the final 23 suspects on charges stemming from sales of marijuana, cocaine, and OxyContin.
There was no mention of Mitchell at the news conference; she now faces three separate drug-distribution charges.
All suspects were picked up the previous day in roundups in Wise and Sullivan counties. All had been indicted May 10 on drug-related charges.
“It is the example of what can be produced when agencies from multiple jurisdictions … work together,” U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said.
Dubbed “Operation Street Sweeper,” the investigation began in the Big Stone Gap area of Wise, county prosecutor Ron Elkins wrote in a statement. Several major targets moved their illicit business across state lines soon after the investigation began, Elkins added.
Prosecutors attending Thursday’s news conference said they could not divulge many details of the operation because the cases were ongoing.
Killian declined to say how officers first stumbled upon the drug ring or to state the quantity of illegal drugs seized during the entire operation.
“There is a fair amount of drugs,” he said. “This has been going on since 1998.”
So far, the investigation has resulted in 20 federal convictions in Tennessee, Killian said. He did not know whether anyone has been sentenced.
As part of the investigation, the following people have been indicted with one or more of the following counts: distribution of oxycodone, distribution of marijuana, distribution of cocaine, and maintaining a place to distribute oxycodone and marijuana.
- Rodney Allen Mitchell, 32, of Kingsport, Tenn.;
- Jennifer Mitchell, 38, of Kingsport, Tenn.;
- Rachel Goad, 34, of Kingsport, Tenn.;
- Lloyd James Steed Jr., 34, of Detroit, Mich.;
- Gilbert Miller, 42, of Kingsport, Tenn.;
- James Howard Poole Jr., 39, of Kingsport, Tenn.;
- Maurice William Gravely, 40, of Johnson City, Tenn.;
- Jarian Hamler, 31, of Jonesborough, Tenn.;
- Joshua Clark Martin, 29, of Kingsport, Tenn.;
- Shawn James Banks, 40, of Detroit, Mich.;
- Marquis Cornelius Taylor, 37, of Miami, Fla.;
- Nekia Dwayne Clark, 35, of Big Stone Gap, Va.;
- Allen Vaughn Crews, 37, of Centerville, Va.;
- Curtis Louis Prior Jr., 35, of Kingsport, Tenn.;
- Antwain Dwayne Hollinger, 27, Big Stone Gap, Va.;
- Adrian Jamal Cornette, 27, of Wise County, Va.;
- Mose Devaughn White, 34, of Johnson City, Tenn.;
- Duvale Pruitt, 37, Kingsport, Tenn.;
- Stephen Anthony Graham, 25, Johnson City, Tenn.;
- Stacy Montague White, 39, Kingsport, Tenn.;
- Keira Lashawn Moore, 29, Big Stone Gap, Va.;
- Cedric D’Andre Mitchell, 22, Big Stone Gap, Va.
WJHL-Channel 11 reporter Bill Christian contributed to this report.