Metro Police on Tuesday showed off the goods from one of their most recent drug busts, and it was a hefty haul — around 700 pounds of marijuana, 67 firearms and 11 arrests.
Chief Ronal Serpas, speaking at a press conference at the North Precinct, said the results of the nine-month investigation effectively curtailed the efforts of “top-tier level distributors.”
With Serpas on Tuesday were District Attorney General Torry Johnson, Sumner County District Attorney Ray Whitley and Harry Summers of the DEA — leaders of agencies that have "partnered" with Metro Police drug task force officers since last summer.
The alleged target of the investigation was Jeffrey K. King, 29, of Goodlettsville, who police say headed a lucrative marijuana business. King was arrested March 10 on drug and money laundering charges and is being held in lieu of $800,000, according to police.
According to police, King and Vernon Lockhart, 28, of Old Hickory, are alleged to have set up dummy corporations to hide the profits from their drug operation, including Pyramid Engineering and JK Trucking. They are also believed to have laundered money through a beauty salon on Villa Place in Nashville, co-owned by Cassie King, the 30-year-old wife of Jeffrey King.
Lockhart, who is being held on $1 million bond, and Cassie King also were arrested on March 10, along with several other Midstate residents: Cheyenne Davis, 35, and Billy Painter, 35, of Nashville; Brent Butler, 30, and Bruce Dady, 36, of Hendersonville; Dustin Ellis, 33, of La Vergne, Matthew Palmer, 26, of Murfreesboro, Jeffrey King's brother Kasey, 31, of Goodlettsville, and Andre White, 31 of Hermitage, according to police reports.
Law enforcement officials on Tuesday said the actions that netted the haul all began with a basic traffic stop in the early morning hours of March 8 when Davis was stopped on Briley Parkway near Centennial Boulevard. Police said she was driving a white pickup truck bearing "Pyramid Engineering" signs on the doors, while pulling a flatbed trailer containing metal construction supports.
While examining the flatbed, officers reported that they found a secret steel compartment that had been welded shut. The trailer was then turned on its side and the Metro Fire Department was called in to assist with opening the compartment, police said. Once it was opened, officers said they discovered bundles of marijuana weighing 551 pounds.
In the days following the traffic stop, police said that 26 search warrants were executed at homes and properties across Middle Tennessee leading to the seizure of 41 vehicles, including four dump trucks, four boats, six trailers (a second of which had a secret compartment), eight four wheelers, tractors, lawnmowers, custom cars, high-end SUVs and pickup trucks, thousands of rounds of ammunition, $278,539 in cash.
Also reportedly found was 45,679,000 Iraqi Dinar, that according to law enforcement, was purchased as a money laundering investment by King and Lockhart.
Attorney General Johnson commended the cooperation of many different law enforcement agencies over the course of the investigation, which he called “complex.”
Charges for all 11 suspects range from weapons and probation violations to money laundering, conspiracy and felony drug possession. Trial dates have not been set.