Authorities seize nearly a ton of marijuana, $618,000 in cash
Saturday, July 26, 2008
By KEITH CLINES
Times Staff Writer [email protected]
8 from Limestone County arrested on drug charges
ATHENS - Authorities seized about 1,800 pounds of "high grade" marijuana and $618,000 in cash and arrested eight Limestone County residents on drug charges Thursday night, capping a three-year drug investigation.
Sheriff Mike Blakely said in a statement Friday that authorities acted after many complaints about the drug-dealing operation. When the investigation led Limestone County deputies to other states in the Southeast about a year ago, Blakely asked the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. attorney to help.
"Our investigation revealed members of this family were importing an average of 2,500 pounds of Mexican marijuana into North Alabama each month," Blakely said.
"The distribution into other states and surrounding counties was as elaborate as their efforts to hide their proceeds through laundering techniques by acquiring real property, assets and expensive automobile transactions."
Investigators watched a closed automobile shop on Benson Circle in Huntsville that had been bought by three brothers who were arrested Thursday.
DEA and county investigators searched the shop and found a tractor-trailer truck with 1,800 pounds of marijuana hidden in secret compartments, Blakely said.
The truck search resulted in the arrest of Tanner residents Will Bryant Hines, 39; Keith Tyrone Hines, 40; and Demetrius Lyndell Hines, 36, on charges of conspiracy to traffic marijuana.
Pine Ridge Trucking
The three, who own Pine Ridge Trucking on Lindsay Road in Tanner, are being held in the Madison County jail.
Authorities with a search warrant went to Will Bryant Hines' home, where they found $550,000 in cash, a pistol and other paraphernalia, Blakely said.
They also obtained five other search warrants that resulted in five more drug arrests.
Don Anthony Smiley, 44, was arrested on Lindsay Road and charged with first-degree possession of marijuana.
In addition, Bailey Morrell Hines, 19; Aurick Tauan Parham, 22; Nikko Jerel Horton, 18, and Vivian Louise Leslie, 43, were all arrested on Huntsville-Brownsferry Road in Tanner and charged with first-degree possession of marijuana.
Parham and Leslie were also charged with possession of a controlled substance after authorities seized ecstasy tablets.
All five were being held in the Limestone County Jail.
More arrests expected
Blakely said more arrests and property seizures are expected.
He cited the U.S. attorney's office, DEA investigators, the Morgan and Madison counties sheriffs' offices, and the Decatur and Athens police departments for their work on the case.
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