Most people find a trip to the countryside can often do you good. But, if you're a drug dealer roaming through or living in the West Tennessee counties of Tipton, Fayette or Lauderdale, expecting to do some business, that might not end up good at all you according to a coalition of stepped up law enforcement agencies.
"As a function of population growth, especially in Tipton and Fayette Counties, which are contiguous to Shelby, as those populations grow those types of crimes also grow in number. I think what you've also seen as a result of that is more aggressive law enforcement," says Tipton County District Attorney General Mike Dunavant.
To emphasize that point, U S Attorney General for the Western District, Edward Stanton III, traveled to Tipton County to announce a new partnership between federal and state prosecutors and law enforcement entities in Tipton and Lauderdale Counties. The idea is to target career criminals and slap them with tougher sentences with no parole.
"The big thing is when someone gets caught, they get convicted. They get federal time. If they get 20 years that's 20 years. That rings a bell. That gets through to the hardheads and that gets through to some of the animalistic behavior we have to put up with," says Tipton County Sheriff "Pancho" Chumley.
At the news conference, it was also announced that after only two weeks of implementation of the new cooperative effort, five aforementioned "hardheads" have been federally indicted in Tipton and Lauderdale Counties.
Stanton said, "Individuals that were trafficking drugs throughout rural West Tennessee, including cocaine and cocaine base as well as prescription drugs. These individuals are now facing stiff federal sentences."
Driving that point home will be assigned to Jennifer Gillis, elevated to the post of Special Assistant United States Attorney. She'll be working specifically with drug prosecutions in those West Tennessee counties. Four of the five indicted could be facing up to 50 years apiece if convicted and millions in fines. For them and others of their ilk, a trip to the country doesn't mean a free pass to commit crime.
Stanton continued, "Determine the worst of the worst with the Sheriff. If the D.A. told me this is a bad actor, we have problems with, certainly we'll use the federal hammer and certainly with the possibility of no parole, no parole and stiff sentences....as a hammer to take the bad actors off the street."