GREENEVILLE — Seven Kingsport residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their alleged participation in a heroin distribution ring that operated for almost two years throughout the Tri-Cities region.
According to court documents, a grand jury out of the U.S. District Court in Greeneville returned a 12-count indictment against 11 people — seven of whom hail from Kingsport — charging them with various drug conspiracy, drug distribution and weapons crimes.
The charges include conspiracy and distribution of heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The case was unsealed Tuesday following the arrest of the final defendant.
in the indictment include:
Jonathan “Marquis” Taylor, 45, of Charlotte, North Carolina; Kendall “Face” Pitts, 44, of Raleigh, North Carolina; Rodney “Unk” Jenkins, 54, of Brooklyn, New York; and Clarence “Streets” Benjamin, 43, of Johnson City.
The Kingsport residents charged in the indictment are:
• Ricky Allen Overbay, 59
• Angela Beth Bernard, 37
• Tessa Rae Hines, 39
• Cierra Brionna Long, 25
• Bethany Kay Childress, 51
• Alexander “Big Mike” Powell, 43
• Kirk Estes, 61
On Oct. 14, Childress agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin. She faces five to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 15. No trial dates have been scheduled for the remaining 10 defendants
If convicted on the heroin charge, each defendant faces a minimum of 10 years to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine up to $10 million.
Prosecutors say this law enforcement operation targeted a network of people believed to be responsible for bringing heroin into the area from out-of-state sources and distributing it throughout the Tri-Cities area from November 2018 through July 2020.
During the investigation, law enforcement agents seized more than $207,500 from seven residents in Kingsport, Gray, New York, and North Carolina.