LONDON - Six individuals accused of operating two separate drug distribution rings were sentenced in U.S. District Court at London on Monday, May 7. A seventh person connected to the case is scheduled for sentencing later this month.
Both cases - one in Clay County and the other in Perry County -- involved the illegal sale of thousands of prescription pills over a several month period in 2006, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger West. All seven people entered guilty pleas to their charges in January.
Monday's sentencings were conducted before U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves.
"These type of cases, which involve high-volume for-profit drug dealers, take longer to investigate," noted Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for Operation UNITE. "The benefit is these dealers generally receive longer sentences."
The Perry County case began in Clay County with a traffic stop conducted by the Manchester Police Department. During that stop officers discovered drugs in a vehicle driven by 33-year-old Javed Ashiq, of Evergreen Way in Stockbridge, Georgia, and called UNITE detectives to assist in the investigation.
It was quickly learned that Ashiq and 30-year-old Kurt Kilgore, of White Oak Lane in Lilburn, Georgia, were shipping drugs from the Atlanta area to a Hazard couple. Also involved with the case was 29-year-old Tonya Groover, of East Atlanta Road in Stockbridge, Georgia.
Local distribution of the pills was handled by 28-year-old Roger Combs, of Sharon Rose Drive in Hazard, and his girlfriend, 28-year-old Kelly Green of Bulan, said Mike Luttrell, manager of UNITE's Kentucky River Drug Task Force.
West said more than 2,100 OxyContin pills and 400 Dilaudid pills were delivered between April and August of last year.
After the suspects were arrested the cases were adopted by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) office in London.
Ashiq, Kilgore, Combs and Green each entered guilty pleas to one count of conspiracy to distribute OxyContin. Groover pled guilty to one count of possession of Dilaudid.
Green was sentenced to 72 months in prison, Combs to 57 months in prison and Kilgore to 65 months in prison. Upon completion of their sentence they will each be placed on three years supervised probation.
Ashiq, a native of Pakistan, received 100 months in prison. Upon completion of his sentence he will be deported, West said.
Federal officials are continuing to investigate the source of the prescription medication in the Atlanta area.
In the second case, 36-year-old Adam Palm, a contract employee for the Knoxville-based ZIP Express delivery service, was caught diverting pills he had stolen in the course of his work servicing local pharmacies.
UNITE detectives had received information that Palm and his wife, 34-year-old Kimberly Palm, were selling drugs in the Clay County area. During their investigation purchases were made from the Palms, who live on Highway 472.
More than 5,000 Lortab pills and approximately 200 OxyContin pills were sold between late summer and early fall, West said.
This case was also adopted by the DEA.
Adam Palm pled guilty to one count each of distribution of OxyContin and distribution of Lortab and was sentenced to 50 months in prison. Kimberly pled guilty to one count of distribution of Lortab and was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
They were ordered to forfeit $3,000 in cash and pay restitution in the amount of $2,800 as part of the plea agreement.
Upon completion of their sentences they will each be placed on three years supervised release.
For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org
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In 2003, Fifth District Congressman Harold "Hal" Rogers (R-Somerset) worked to create Operation UNITE, a regional anti-drug initiative empowering citizens groups and community leaders in 29 southern and eastern Kentucky counties. UNITE, which stands for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment & Education, seeks to fight the drug epidemic by expanding drug awareness and education programs to keep people from using drugs; coordinating drug treatment and outreach programs for those who are already addicted; and operating regional undercover law enforcement task forces for interdiction and prosecution of those dealing drugs. Rogers has directed $33.1 million in federal funds to the counter-drug initiative over the past four years. For more information contact Karen Engle toll-free at 1-866-678-6483.
Drug Tip Hotline - 1-866-424-4382 / Treatment Referral Hotline - 1-866-90-UNITE (1-866-908-6483)