Business used as front for drug sales, Unicoi police say

Brad Hicks • Jun 4, 2012 at 11:17 PM

UNICOI — A Unicoi couple made up two of the four people arrested over the weekend for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking organization that, according to officials, saw the sale of cocaine from a Unicoi business.

Arrested were Carl Lee Glass and Melissa R. Glass, both of 911 Massachusetts Ave., Lot No. 3, Unicoi; Guadalope V. Higera, address unavailable; and Tyson Gene Silvers, 205 Hawkins Road, Erwin.

Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Frank Rogers said for the past several months, the sheriff’s department had been conducting an investigation into suspected drug trafficking taking place out of the Valley Video and Trading Post business, 3906 Unicoi Drive, after receiving reports from citizens of suspicious traffic in and out of the business.

Officers began surveillance operations on the business, which was owned by Carl Glass, and noticed that drug offenders known to sheriff’s department officials were visiting the establishment but were leaving with no legitimate store merchandise, Rogers said.

Rogers said that in the course of the investigation process, officials developed an informant with “knowledge of the workings of the operation” who agreed to cooperate with police. On May 3, the informant was able to purchase cocaine from Carl Glass, and Melissa Glass was present at the time of the transaction, Rogers said.

Through a different source, investigators were able to introduce an undercover officer to Glass, Rogers said. Authorities conducted several more investigations since early May in which “significant quantities” of cocaine was purchased from Carl Glass, both from his business and his home, according to Rogers.

During the course of the investigation, officials learned that Carl Glass was connected with Higera, who was also involved in the drug trade, Rogers said. On Friday, an undercover officer and informant met Glass at his home with the intent of purchasing cocaine and a firearm from Glass, according to the affidavit of complaint. Also present were Melissa Glass, Silvers and Higera, according to the report.

While Carl Glass was unable to locate a firearm for sale, he provided the undercover officer with an automatic pistol for protection purposes, with the understanding that the gun was to be returned the following week, the report states. The report further states that Carl Glass was previously convicted of a felony. The officer was also able to purchase a quarter ounce of cocaine for $500, according to the report.

During this time, there was discussion of a trip to Atlanta in which Carl and Melissa Glass and Higera would purchase a quantity of cocaine to bring to this area for resale, Rogers said. The affidavit of complaint states that Silvers was to run Valley Video and Trading Post while Carl Glass was away, and the undercover officer was to return the borrowed firearm to him.

On Saturday, Carl and Melissa Glass and Higera met with the informant at a predetermined location to make the trip to Atlanta, Rogers said. The Tennessee Highway Patrol effected an interdiction stop on the vehicle in which they were traveling while on Interstate 26, Rogers said.

Authorities seized six vehicles and a total of $9,037 found on Carl Glass and Higera, Rogers said. At the Glasses’ home, Rogers said officers found ammunition, firearm magazines and components used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Investigators also discovered that there was no power at the Valley Video and Trading Post business and that a cash register inside was not plugged in and contained no money, Rogers said. He said this corroborated a statement Carl Glass made during the course of the investigation in which he stated that the shop and his construction company were fronts and that he made money by selling drugs.

“Therefore, assets to do with his shop and construction company were seized,” Rogers said. “Since it was a front, he was using it in the furtherance of his drug trafficking organization.”

Rogers said Carl Glass and Higera have been transferred to federal custody and face charges of possession of a firearm by prohibited persons and cocaine trafficking. They are set to be arraigned today in U.S. District Court in Greeneville.

Melissa Glass was charged with facilitating a felony and Silvers was charged with conspiracy to sell cocaine. Silvers was arraigned Monday in Unicoi County Sessions Court, where a $50,000 corporate bond was set in his case. He is scheduled to again appear in Sessions Court on June 21.

Rogers said the investigation is ongoing and more charges are anticipated. He also said the investigation was successful due to cooperation from law enforcement agencies involved, which included the sheriff’s department, Erwin Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“It went off without a hitch,” he said. “It’s been an investigation that was timely and was successful because of the cooperation from all the participating agencies.”

Rogers also lauded the Unicoi residents who initially provided information to the sheriff’s department’s tips line. He encouraged anyone with information on illegal drug activity to anonymously report it to the tips line at 743-1855.

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