The latest Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department-led federal crystal-meth prosecution is proceeding in an atypical way, and it’s a path that’s clearly favorable to federal prosecutors, according to court documents.

The first person to agree to plead guilty in the 12-defendant conspiracy headed by Joy Marie Hileman was Hileman herself. Almost invariably, the first person to admit guilt is not the lead defendant.

Hileman, 28, will plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of meth, and will accept responsibility for putting between 1.5 kilograms and 4.5 kilograms on the streets of Hamblen County. She is the only one of the dozen who is not a convicted felon, according to Lt. Gene Watson, the lead HCSD narcotics investigator.

The value of Hileman’s plea agreement is that it implicates 10 of her 11 codefendants in a conspiracy that was dominated by women. The top four defendants are women, as are three of the remaining eight.

“(Hileman) usually takes females with her to purchase methamphetamine, so they can either hide the methamphetamine or take a drug charge for her … (Hileman) admitted that on one occasion, she traveled to Memphis and her supplier purchased three large suitcases full of methamphetamine,” the plea agreement states.

Hileman’s supplier was a Knoxville man who goes by the name “Boss.” Boss distributed pounds of meth with his unidentified girlfriend, according to the plea agreement.

Like most crystal-meth dealers indicted in federal court, Hileman had no chance to beat the charges. Between July 2017 and December 2018, she sold to a confidential informant on four occasions. Six of Hileman’s codefendants and two others, who apparently avoided indictment, identified Hileman as a meth dealer, according to the plea agreement.

The alleged meth dealers implicated by Hileman’s plea agreement are her girlfriend, Summer Carroll, 20; Brittany Lainhart, 35, and her boyfriend, Lester Burden, 23; Cheree Renee Greene, 38; Christy Marshall, 42, Kristi Ward, 41; Frederick Greenlee, 56; Jeffrey Latimer, 39, Larry “Kountry” Sawyer, 53; and Felicity Trent, a 34-year-old woman who remains at large.

The defendant who was not implicated by Hileman’s plea agreement is Derrick “Face” Clemons, 50. The grand jury indicted Clemons for allegedly selling heroin and fentanyl. Latimer was indicted for possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking offense.