Local Investigation Leads to Indictments in Major Meth Trafficking Operation

June 10, 2022
By: Dwayne Page

Nine people were indicted in a special session of the DeKalb County Grand Jury on Wednesday charging them with conspiracy to sell and deliver more than 300 grams of methamphetamine following an eight month long undercover investigation started by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department into a major local drug trafficking operation.

The TBI and other agencies later joined the sheriff’s department in the probe from February to October 2021 called “Operation Ice Pick” in which drug buys were made through confidential informants. Although arrests have been made authorities say this investigation remains active and ongoing.

The defendants indicted by the Grand Jury Wednesday are:

48-year-old Charles Edward White, Jr. of 295 Johnson’s Chapel Road, Sparta, charged with two counts of Meth 300 grams or more – conspiracy, 25 counts Meth – Mfg, Deliver, Sale, Possession with Intent. He is in the DeKalb County Jail under a $300,000 bond.

51-year-old Shawn David Troglen of Charlie Dickerson Road, Sparta, charged with two counts Meth 300 grams or more – conspiracy. He was booked into the White County Jail under a $300,000 bond.

34 year old Tiffany Jeanette Ford of South Carter Street, Sparta, charged with two counts of Meth 300 grams or more – conspiracy. She was booked into the Cumberland County Jail under a $200,000 bond.

32-year-old Tara R. Treadway, Smithville, charged with two counts of Meth 300 grams or more – conspiracy. She was booked into the Cumberland County Jail, under a $200,000 bond.

43-year-old Amy L. Hall of New Hope Road, Alexandria, charged with two counts of Meth 300 grams or more – conspiracy. She was booked into the DeKalb County Jail under a $200,000 bond.

52-year-old Eva Louise Dover of Cookeville Highway, Smithville, charged with two counts of Meth 300 grams or more – conspiracy. She  was booked in the DeKalb County Jail under a $200,000 bond.

31-year-old Paige Lynn Simmons of Summer View Lane, McMinnville, charged with two counts of Meth 300 grams or more – conspiracy. She was booked in the Warren County Jail under a $200,000 bond.

30-year-old Phillip Joe Potter of Roy Webb Road, McMinnville, charged with two counts of Meth 300 grams or more – conspiracy. He  was booked in the Warren County Jail under a $200,000 bond.

36-year-old Robert H. Murdock of Killen, Alabama, charged with two counts of Meth 300 grams or more – conspiracy. He was booked into the Lauderdale County Jail under a $300,000 bond.

Detective Mason Merriman of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department said White was initially the target of the investigation and when it was discovered that he might be a major meth dealer, the TBI was brought in to assist which led to others involved in the conspiracy.

“In February 2021, we began an investigation into Charles Edward White, Jr., and were able to utilize confidential sources to purchase 3.5 grams, or an 8-ball, of methamphetamine from him. From that point on we began hearing his name more and more, and we contacted the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and started purchasing larger amounts just to see exactly how big a dealer he was.” said Detective Merriman.

“Over time, we were able to utilize an undercover TBI agent to make the purchases. Through countless hours of surveillance, we were able to get a T-3 wire intercept to tap into his phones, and through that we were able to learn the names of other people involved in the conspiracy,” Merriman continued.

“By the end of October 2021, White and his partner, Shawn David Troglen, traveled to Alabama to meet their source, Robert H. Murdock, and picked up 13 pounds of meth, along with a couple of pounds of marijuana.”

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that Chief Deputy Brian Williams and the TBI then arrested White and Troglen at a gas station in Pulaski on their return trip. Officials say that White and Troglen had made the trip to Killen, Alabama, in a Ford F-350 with a motorcycle in the back, but on the return trip White was riding the motorcycle with Troglen following. Fearing they would be unable to stop the motorcycle from fleeing, it was decided to make the arrests when the pair had stopped at a gas station. The pair had been under surveillance all along their trip, with a plane in the air. Investigators seized the drugs, $10,000 in cash, guns, the truck and the motorcycle.

The Alabama DEA was also involved in the bust. A search warrant was executed at Murdock’s home in Killen, Alabama, where another two pounds of meth, marijuana and several thousands of dollars in cash was found.

Later that evening, a search warrant was executed at White’s home on Johnson’s Chapel Road, where an additional 10 ounces of meth was discovered. Eight vehicles, including wreckers and rollbacks, four wheelers, a tire changer, and two Jet Skis, were seized at White’s home that officials say were traded for drugs. That property has already been awarded to the Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities say that Troglen had another source for drugs in the Knoxville area, who was also arrested by the DEA. Troglen would order five to seven kilos of meth, which is 2.2 pounds each, and she would bring the drugs to him. From September 15 to October 29, roughly a one-month span, around 43 pounds of methamphetamines was put through DeKalb County, with $325,000 of total revenue.

In addition to DeKalb County the drug trafficking operation drew buyers from Warren, Van Buren, White, and Putnam Counties, with some traveling as far away as Kentucky to pick up drugs. Four states were involved with connections in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia. Authorities believe that the source of the drugs was most likely from super labs in Mexico, and estimate that during the eight months of the investigation possibly $1.5 million in drug transactions were made.

After White was out on bond for the arrest in Pulaski, on May 12, 2022, another search warrant was executed at White’s home where more meth and five more vehicles were seized along with some other equipment.

“White and Troglen are the biggest methamphetamine dealers I’ve seen around here in a long, long time,” said Sheriff Ray “I want to commend the detectives and chief deputy here for the work that they’ve put into this case. Detective Merriman has spearheaded this case from the beginning, He has worked in depth on the case and put in numerous hours from February 2021 to this week. Even though the case ended in October 2021, there were still a lot of man hours put in to the case to get things ready for the grand jury.”

“I also want to thank the TBI and all the other agencies that helped us, along with the District Attorney General’s office for the cooperation we have with them. We’re a small county with limited resources, and this was a multijurisdictional case that’s led into another state. Without their help we could not have done it,” Sheriff Ray said.

Agencies involved in the investigation included the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, TBI, Middle Tennessee Task Force High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, Office of the 13th Judicial District Attorney General, Homeland Security Investigations, Cookeville Police Department, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Crossville Police Department, and Warren County Sheriff’s Office.