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Investigators say fentanyl discovery was enough ‘to kill the entire population of rural West Tennessee’

The meth and fentanyl were stored in East Tennessee and intended to travel to Henry County where Payne lived.
Officials discovered approximately 12 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately two pounds of...
Officials discovered approximately 12 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately two pounds of fentanyl, some LSD and nearly 7 pounds of marijuana.(24th Judicial District Of Tennessee))
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 4:54 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee authorities said nearly two pounds of fentanyl was discovered while officers served warrants on a man with suspected gang ties, WKRN reported.

James Lee Payne, II, was arrested Saturday on multiple drug charges. Payne is suspected of having ties to a known gang, officials said.

According to District Attorney Matthew Stowe, a large amount of illegal drugs, cash, weapons and vehicles were seized from multiple locations as a part of a long-term drug investigation.

The Paris Police Department, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation worked the investigation.

“The increasing numbers of gangs in our region has a direct correlation to violent crime, Stowe said in a statement. “We have seen drug trafficking, gang violence, and even human trafficking as organized groups spar for dominance over drug selling turfs.”

Stowe said multiple arrests were made in Henry County and East Tennessee following the investigation.

During the multiple searches, investigators discovered nearly 12 pounds of methamphetamine, two pounds of fentanyl, an undisclosed amount of LSD and nearly seven pounds of marijuana. Investigators also located a shotgun, five vehicles and more than $15,000 in cash.

The meth and fentanyl were stored in East Tennessee and intended to travel to Henry County where Payne lived.

“To understand the importance of this seizure of illegal drugs, the amount of fentanyl discovered is lethal enough to kill the entire population of rural West Tennessee,” Stowe explained.

Additional arrests are expected to be made. The investigation is ongoing.

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