Star Staff Reports
The West Tennessee Drug Task Force’s (WTDTF) interdiction team was named 2020 Team of the Year by the six-state Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) at the federal agency’s annual conference this week in Biloxi, Miss., said Task Force Director Johnie Carter. The nine members of the team that patrols Interstate 40 in Shelby, Fayette and Haywood counties last year conducted more than 140 stops resulting in a number of significant seizures with a total street value of more than $100 million.
“Everything these officers do saves lives in Tennessee,” said Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich, chairman of the WTDTF Board of Directors. “Their daily mission is removing deadly drugs and criminals from our streets. We couldn’t be prouder of them for this national recognition.”
The seizures included marijuana, heroin, Fentanyl, and other dangerous drugs, as well as U.S. currency. More than 30 percent of the stops involved subject affiliated with or identified to federal investigations.
Also, WTDTF Agent Michael Thomas, who is assigned from the Memphis Police Department, received an award for the year’s largest dangerous drug seizure – 8.8 pounds of Fentanyl.
“The passion and determination of these agents to rid Tennessee of drugs and violent crime is unmatched,” said Carter. “Besides drugs, our Agents frequently catch wanted persons for murder, rapes and other violent crimes as well as uncover human trafficking, credit card and identity theft rings and hosts of other crimes.”
The Gulf Coast HIDTA aims to reduce illegal drug trafficking through coordinated efforts of some 932 agencies in its region along the major drug corridors of I-40, I-10 and I-20 to the Mexican border. The Gulf Coast region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Shelby County, Tennessee.
The WTDF operates by joint agreement of Tennessee’s District Attorneys for the 28th Judicial District (Frederick Agee), 29th Judicial District (Danny Goodman Jr.) and 30th Judicial District (Amy Weirich), and also includes members assigned from Fayette County Sheriff Bobby Riles and Haywood County Sheriff Billy Garrett Jr., and Memphis, Germantown and Oakland Police Departments.
Fayette County, which is in the 25th Judicial District (Mark Davidson), includes about 15 miles of I-40.