A frequently flyer at the county jail, who was rearrested Wednesday night on a felony crystal-meth charge, allegedly is a noteworthy cog in cartel-affiliated, drug-distribution network that’s highly developed – yet growing in leaps and bounds – in response to a critical market force – plummeting price, a Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigator said Thursday.
Five years ago, the crystal meth available to Morristown meth merchants cost between $1,200 and $1,600 per ounce. The same amount today goes for between $450 and $600, “depending on who you’re going through,” said Lt. Gene Watson, who heads up narcotics investigations for the sheriff’s department.
“Just three or four years ago, getting an eight-ball of dope (3.5 grams) was a pretty big deal, but when you’re getting quarter-ounces and half-ounces all the time, you know the quantity of meth in Morristown has increased significantly,” Watson says. “With the price going down, the business has definitely skyrocketed.
“The more meth increases, the more violent crimes increase … and the more people we indict, the more quantity (we see) and the cheaper it becomes,” Watson said Thursday afternoon.
The narcotics investigator says it’s not clear why meth prices are dropping so precipitously, but it’s an undeniable phenomenon. Watson says the lion’s share of the crystal meth sold in Hamblen County comes from Mexican drug cartel members based in Atlanta.
Latinos who transport crystal meth to Hamblen County may not be cartel members, Watson says, but local dealers “automatically assume” they’re cartel-affiliated, but they benefit from the reputation of their menacing suppliers “without doing anything.”
“It’s a big dilemma here,” Watson said.
Emanuel Haygood, 31, was a mid-level dealer who allegedly routinely sold ounces of cartel-manufactured crystal meth in concert with “more than five” other alleged crystal-meth dealers that remain targets in a federal investigation, according to Watson, a member of the FBI-led High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas task force. Watson says Haygood is an excellent candidate for another federal prosecution.
Haygood was sentenced to five years in federal prison in 2009 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 5 grams of methamphetamine. In 2013, Haygood was incarcerated for another six months for violating the terms of his restricted release.
The defendant was holding a relatively small amount of crystal meth and cocaine – .76 grams and .39 grams, respectively – when he was taken into custody on Wednesday, but authorities didn’t find the drugs until he was inside the jail, which resulted in a contraband charge, according to Deputy David Barker.
Barker arrested Haygood on outstanding warrants for domestic assault and nonviolent child abuse in a June 28 an alleged incident involving his girlfriend and their 6-year-old daughter. During supervised visitation with his daughter, an argument erupted, according to Detective Lt. Vicki Arnold with the Morristown Police Department.
The defendant allegedly struck his girlfriend in the shins and attempted to forcefully pull his daughter from a parked vehicle while she was strapped into a child seat, according to an arrest warrant.
Haygood allegedly was holding just under an ounce of meth and slightly more than an ounce of marijuana when he was arrested in May. He allegedly was holding 21.3 grams of meth when he was arrested in June.
Both times, Haygood managed to make bond. This morning, Haygood was being held without bond.