Drug raid nets 7 pounds of marijuana, nearly $5,000 cash

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   As long as there is supply and demand, illegal drug trafficking, like alcohol during the days of Prohibition, will continue to be a profitable sideline business.
   How profitable? Take 7 pounds of high-grade marijuana, divide it into ounces (16 x 7) and multiply the total by $160 to $180. Not a bad haul. Unless the supplier gets caught, as was the case Wednesday night when agents from the First Judicial District Drug Task Force and officers from Carter County Sheriff's Department, including K-9 Unit, Deputy Sarah Ryan and Sgt. Kabor, executed a search warrant in the Blue Springs area.
   Now, to determine profit margin, subtract: the cost of four cars, one motorcycle, $5,000 in cash, $42,500 bond, attorney fees, fines, court costs, and jail time. OK, so maybe it's not that profitable.
   DTF Director Kenneth Phillips said during a press conference Thursday that his agency was contacted about a month ago by Carter County Sheriff John Henson to discuss "a problem he was having in the Blue Springs area of the county; a subject that was supposed to be bringing in large amounts of marijuana and selling to residents of Carter County and the surrounding area.
   "We started an investigation which culminated last night [Wednesday] with the execution of a search warrant at 227 Bishop Hollow Road, which was the residence of James Steve Shelton. At the time that we executed the search warrant, we found approximately 7 pounds of marijuana, close to $5,000 in cash, seized four cars and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle," Phillips said.
   Among the vehicles seized were a 2002 Pontiac Trans Am, a 1995 Geo Tracker, a 1993 Pontiac Grand Prix, a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, and a 1976 Harley. Total currency amounted to $4,944.
   Officers also found digital scales, packaging material, and some pills believed to be Xanax. Shelton, 33, was charged with possession of Schedule VI for resale, possession of Schedule IV for resale, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
   Timothy Shaun Rutherford, 19, who lived at the residence with Shelton, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $7,500.
   Both men have been released on bond from Carter County Jail, Phillips said.
   According to Sheriff Henson, "I received information through a concerned citizen ... and they advised me that this person was bringing in large amounts of marijuana and dealing in drugs." The sheriff then notified DTF.
   Phillips said the drug operation probably would be classified as
  "upper level" for the Carter County area.
   Henson agreed. "This person has been moving quite a bit of drugs. As you can see, that's quite a bit of marijuana when you get to breaking it down and bagging it up. If you catch a person with this much, you can pretty well figure he's moving quite a bit. And from the information that I got through a concerned citizen, quite a bit of drug activity was going on," the sheriff said.
   The marijuana was described as "imported" rather than "homegrown" variety. DTF is still working to determine point of origin.
   Monetary value of the marijuana was estimated at $20,000-plus. "Usually people pay about $1,300 to $1,500 a pound for it and then they sell it for $160 to $180 an ounce," Phillips said. Profit depends on "how you break it down," he said, with $20,000 the median between the two.
   Henson said the tip from a concerned resident paid off. "Neighbors notice more than you think. You get a lot of traffic in and out, and they don't stay but a few minutes, it's a good possibility you've got a drug dealer living in the community," he said.
   "With the DTF and all of the sheriff's departments working together, we are getting something done; we're making a difference. That's the only way that we're ever going to get ahead on this thing, is everybody pulling together and everybody working together."
   The sheriff said drug eradication is No. 1 on his priority list. "I've always been dead-set against drugs and always will be," he said.