GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - Following a three-day trial before the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Judge, a jury convicted Michael J.W. Potter, 36, of Kingsport, Tennessee, of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
Sentencing is set for 9:00 a.m., April 2, 2017, in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. Potter faces a minimum sentence of 10 years up to a maximum of life in prison. There is no parole in the federal system.
Evidence presented at trial revealed that an investigation into a large scale methamphetamine distribution ring in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia began in 2015. In June 2016, a Tennessee Highway Patrol Officer stopped two members of the organization shortly after they delivered several pounds of crystal methamphetamine to individuals in Kingsport, Tennessee. That stop led to the execution of search warrants by the Second Judicial Drug Task Force working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), resulting in the seizure of nearly five kilograms of crystal methamphetamine. Information obtained through the traffic stop and search warrants allowed agents to identify numerous members of the organization, which was supplied primarily by co-defendant, Nathan Hogan of Villa Rica, Georgia.
Hogan and others, including Potter, were responsible for transporting hundreds of pounds of crystal methamphetamine, a highly addictive controlled substance, into Sullivan County, Tennessee and the surrounding area for distribution. Of the 25 individuals indicted in this conspiracy, Potter was the only one to proceed to trial. The other 24 defendants pleaded guilty, with the exception of Shawn Dumitras, who died prior to arrest.
Law enforcement agencies participating in this joint investigation were the Second Judicial District Drug Task Force, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, Kingsport, Police Department, TBI, ATF and DEA. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Gregory Bowman represented the United States.
This case was a result of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.