March 15, 2014
A two-year investigation into methamphetamine production in Surry County has resulted in jail terms ranging from eight months to more than 16 years against 20 area residents.
“We called the investigation Operation Arizona Tea,” said Sheriff Graham Atkinson. “We found all of the cooks were using the same tea bottles in their production and were able to show a conspiracy pattern in that they dealt with each other.”
The investigation resulted in the discovery of eight active methamphetamine labs across all areas of the county.
According to the sheriff, some of those arrested were immediately prosecuted on the federal level, while others were first charged with state crimes.
“Most of the suspects were arrested on state charges and then indicted at the federal level,” Atkinson said. “A few went directly to federal court.”
Because of the link between the labs the office of the U.S. Attorney and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were also involved with the cases. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s Clandestine Lab Unit also assisted in the crime scene work and clean-up of the labs.
Atkinson said the investigation consisted of surveillance, undercover buys, and tracking pseudoephedrine purchases.
“The investigation really shows the networking of users, producers and dealers,” he said.
Arrests included suspects producing methamphetamine in labs in Dobson, Pilot Mountain, Mount Airy and Elkin areas.
Federal warrants charged the suspects with conspiracy in the production of methamphetamine, with involvement ranging from purchasing precursor agents to the actual production of methamphetamine.
Sentences ranged from eight months to more than 16 years. Those sentenced in the operation were:
Donald Ray Beck, 44, of 109 Charles Beck Lane, Mount Airy. Beck was sentenced to 16 years and three months.
Angela Henley Beck, 42, of 109 Charles Beck Lane in Mount Airy, who received a sentence of 15 years and nine months.
Tommy Lee Leftwich, 46, of 1795 Cook School Road in Pilot Mountain. Leftwich received a sentence of 14 years and two months.
Dillon Edward Leftwich, 21, of 1795 Cook School Road in Pilot Mountain. He received a sentence of 13 years and six months.
Johnny Ray Bowman, 45, no address available. He received a sentence of 11 years and two months.
Justin Shane Atkins, 24, of 135 W. L Lebanon St., in Mount Airy, who received a sentence of six years and one month.
Steven Edward Gwyn, 37, of 136 Melissa Drive in Mount Airy. Gwyn received a sentence of five years and three months.
Mary Ruth Cook, of 1795 Cook School Road in Pilot Mountain, who received a sentence of four years and 11 months.
Joshua Dylan Bennett, 21, of 430 Kermit Lewis Road, Pilot Mountain. Bennett received a sentence of three years and nine months.
Dustin Joseph Cochran, 44, of 503 Speas Mill Road, in Cana, Va., who received a sentence of three years federal probation.’
Alexandria Marie Lynch, 25, of 397 Ring Road, city unknown. Lynch received a sentence of two years and eight months.
Jimmy David Hunter, 42, of 130 Chase Trail in Elkin. Hunter was sentenced to a term of two years and seven months.
Joseph Patrick Cockerham, 24, of 171 Cook Lane in Pilot Mountain, who received a sentence of two years and six months.
Samantha Renee Edmonds, 19, of 138 Rons Way in Mount Airy. Edmonds was sentenced to two years and six months.
Casey Renee Cockerham, 21, of 171 Cook Lane in Pilot Mountain, who was sentenced to a term of two years and three months.
April Lee Badgett, 36, of 270 Woodbridge Dr., in Mount Airy. Badgett received a sentence of two years.
Jessica Nichols Sams, 23, of 160 Badgett Farm Trail in Dobson. Sams was sentenced to two years.
Alicia Michelle Atkins, 30, of 107 Comanche Lane in Mount Airy. Atkins received a sentence of one year and 10 months.
Jennifer Lora Holding, 28, of 355 Austin Drive in Mount Airy. Holding received a sentence of one year and seven months.
Andrew Clay Edmonds, 21, of 138 Rons Way in Mount Airy. Edmonds was sentenced to eight months.
According to Atkinson, all of the sentences will be served in federal prison.