Investigator Honored for Work In Drug Investigation

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Investigator Honored for Work In Drug Investigation

Posted: 01/16/2019
Mayor, Holmes, ChiefKnoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Police Chief Eve Thomas named Investigator John Holmes the December Co-Officer of the Month.  Investigator Holmes has been with KPD since October 2001.

In June 2018, Holmes began investigating the death of a female who was found deceased in the bathroom of a business where she worked in East Knoxville.  Through the investigation, Investigator Holmes was able to identify a street name and phone number of the suspected dealer that had supplied the victim "heroin" (which turned out to be fentanyl) as well as identify that the dealer was operating in the Austin Homes Housing development. In August, Holmes responded to another overdose in the Old City in which the victim was revived.  In this investigation, he was able to determine that the source of the overdose was the same suspect as the one from the death in June.

Investigator Holmes was able to develop a contact who had knowledge of the dealer.  This allowed Investigator Holmes to begin making controlled purchases of "heroin" from the suspect.  Holmes discovered that the initially identified suspect actually had several younger unknown individuals selling for him with the primary suspect overseeing the operation.  

Chief Thomas said, “The case was difficult to work as there were multiple people involved in each deal and the identity of all of the suspects were not known.  As the case progressed, the group of dealers moved their base of operation.  Investigator Holmes aggressively continued pursuing the case and was ultimately able to obtain a "No-Knock" warrant due to the fact that numerous weapons were kept in the house and that often times the dealers would answer the door and conduct their business while holding firearms.”

On December 12th the Special Operations Squad executed the search warrant at the residence.  Inside, 6 individuals involved in the dealing including the primary suspect who was the overseer of the operation were found inside.  All 6 individuals, 5 males and 1 female, were from the Detroit, MI area.  Numerous handguns, cash, quantities of suspected heroin, marijuana, and Opana pills were found in the house.  Two-way radios that the group appeared to be using during their operations were also discovered.  
In a vehicle outside, officers discovered an additional handgun, an M-4 style rifle with a 30 round magazine and a scope as well as a 12-gauge shotgun that was fed with a drum-style magazine. In all, officers confiscated 2 long guns, 4 handguns, 219 grams of heroin, 50 Opana pills, and $7,217.00 cash.

All 6 individuals were initially charged with Possession with the Intent to Distribute Heroin.  Some of the suspects were also charged with Weapon Possession charges and 2 were charged with being Felons in Possession of Weapons as they were already convicted felons from Michigan.  Additional follow up showed that the organization was trafficking heroin from the Detroit area to Knoxville where it was sold on the street to local addicts.  Since then, the case was presented to the U.S. Attorney's office and the 4 primary traffickers have been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin as well as numerous other counts. 

Chief Thomas said, “This would not have been possible without the great investigative work done by Investigator Holmes in the initial investigations of the death and overdose, his continued perseverance to identify and pursue the primary suspect, and his great work in building the evidence needed to secure the search warrant and put the whole case together for prosecution.”

“To put the amount of heroin seized into perspective, the normal user amount or "hit" of the drug is 0.1 grams.  That means that the heroin seized equals over 2000 individual doses of the drug, and combined with the fact that we already know that this group is responsible for at least one overdose death and another non-fatal overdose, you can easily see the impact and importance of this arrest and seizure,” said Chief Thomas.

In addition to the drugs themselves, numerous weapons and drug traffickers were removed from the street.  This case and these arrests are exceptional work on their own merits, but what makes it even greater, is that Investigator Holmes did this investigation while continuing to work numerous other death cases.  

In December while trying to work on this case, Investigator Holmes was able to identify a suspect and obtain confessions from another suspect from two unrelated overdose deaths, one of which was a case being worked by another investigator. In addition, he volunteered to interview another individual that led to yet another confession of that individual's involvement in a separate large scale drug operation operating in south Knoxville. 

“Investigator Holmes works very diligently as a member of the Drug-Related Death Task Force for not only the unit, but the department as a whole, as well as for the whole community, and more specifically for the victims of the growing drug epidemic and their families.  He is always there to help anyone in need and always willing to lend a hand for other officers and investigators, even when it means putting his own work to the side,” Chief Thomas concluded.