CCSD officers aid US Marshals, NC agencies in capture of fugitive

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

Officers with the Carter County Sheriff's Department, as well as several other law enforcement agencies from Tennessee and North Carolina, apprehended a federal fugitive Wednesday who was wanted on drug and firearm charges by the United States Marshal Service.
   Gregory Allen Oaks, 50, who resides on Bear Branch Road in the Buck Mountain area of Roan Mountain, was arrested early Wednesday morning as he was preparing to leave his residence.
   "We set up surveillance two weeks ago at the Oaks residence," said CCSD Sheriff John Henson. "We spotted Mr. Oaks getting in his vehicle to drive down the road to his parent's residence, and that's when we decided to move in and make the arrest."
   Oaks' arrest stems from outstanding warrants from North Carolina charging him with being a fugitive from justice.
   "The underlying charges were brought by the U. S. Forestry Service," said U. S. Marshal Jeff Hedden, with the United States Marshals Service Eastern District of Tennessee. "When Mr. Oaks failed to appear on those charges, it made him a fugitive from justice and that's the jurisdiction of the U. S. Marshals Service. Apprehension is our forté."
   The underlying charges mentioned by Hedden were originally filed by the U.S. Forestry Service in North Carolina and charged Oaks with possession of cocaine with the intent to resale, possession of firearms during drug trafficking, and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.
   According to Hedden, the key to the month-long operation to apprehend Oaks was cooperation from all law enforcement agencies involved. The Forestry Service and the United States Marshals Service of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina had to work together on the original charges and the investigation to locate Oaks. Once Oaks was located and it was determined where he lived, those agencies had to begin working with local law enforcement agencies of Avery County, N. C., and Carter County.
   "He was well known to the local law enforcement, and we needed their knowledge to help bring this to a close as easily as we did," Hedden said. "The United States Marshals Service had to learn this person and that is where the local agencies helped."
   Hedden said because local agencies were so willing to work with each other and with federal agencies, the operation was a success.
   "They were more than willing to work with us and share their knowledge with us," he said. "Because we were willing to work together, we took a very bad offender off the streets."
   According to Hedden, Oaks has a lengthy criminal history that includes firearms violations, narcotics and violence. Oaks was listed as being "armed and dangerous" in the information that U.S. Marshals sent to law enforcement agencies. Hedden said Oaks was considered to be dangerous because of the natures of his previous offenses.
   Hedden described Oaks as combative, armed, dangerous and that he had attempted to flee apprehension several times. "Not only was he a drug dealer, he was also a drug user, so we had to wonder what kind of mindset he would be in when we apprehended him," Hedden said.
   According to Hedden, charges against Oaks from the state of Tennessee are still pending due to the fact that the investigation has not yet been closed. "What he was facing to start with in North Carolina will be pretty severe," he said.
   Oaks will face charges in Carter County as well. Henson said he is not sure yet exactly what the Carter County charges will be.
   "The charges here in Carter County are pending against Oaks at this time," Henson said. "Right now we're just getting into the investigation."
   According to Henson, after Oaks' arrest, the CCSD obtained search warrants to search Oaks' residence in Roan Mountain. The search of the residence turned up several items that had been reported as stolen in Carter County, Henson said.
   Officers found a pickup truck and a four wheeler which had been reported stolen from Carter County. They also found several handguns and rifles, including an AR15 assault rifle -- at least one of which has been identified as being stolen. Some of the items were stolen two or three years ago; others were stolen more recently, Henson said.
   Also found on the property were several weed eaters, chain saws and saddles. The CCSD is currently working to see if any of these items had been stolen in Carter County.
   Henson agreed with Hedden that the key to the operation was teamwork between all law enforcement agencies involved from both states.
   "Teamwork does pay off," Henson said, adding that he wanted to thank all of his officers as well as the officers from the other agencies. "Working together is the only way to get the job done."
   Oaks is currently being held in federal custody in Greeneville.