Multiple law enforcement agencies rolled through the Surry County and southern Virginia’s drug trafficking community, resulting in more than 20 arrests.
Operation Rolling Thunder, a joint effort between North Carolina, Virginia, federal law enforcement agencies and U.S. Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle’s office, has resulted in federal arrest warrants for 24 people in the Surry County and the Twin County Virginia area for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, according to a press release from the Surry County Sheriff’s Office.
Operation Rolling Thunder is the result of a multi-year, multi-jurisdiction investigation into an alleged methamphetamine drug trafficking organization, according to the statement.
According to the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, the people arrested are responsible for the trafficking and distribution of a large quantity of methamphetamine into the Surry County and Southwest Virginia area.
The arrests include three Surry County residents — Amy Hoyt, of Mount Airy, Grandy Nester, of Mount Airy, and Karen Hawks, of Lowgap.
Nester and a Cana, Virginia, resident, Amber “Rose” Bilyeu, were arrested by local authorities earlier in the year.
After executing a search warrant at Nester’s home on East Pine Street in Flat Rock, sheriff’s office and Mount Airy Police Department officials found stolen items, including two vehicles (a 2001 Chevrolet Impala and a 2011 Chevrolet Impala) and two firearms (a Springfield XDS .45-caliber handgun and a MK 1 Browning 9 mm). The sting also discovered more than 32 grams of methamphetamine.
Nester wasn’t at the residence at the time.
In January, he allegedly led Surry County and Patrick County, Virginia, deputies on a car chase. Deputies found 31 grams of methamphetamine in the car, and they believed he was accompanied by Bilyeu and another passenger.
Nester allegedly drove his vehicle through several fences in temporarily losing the deputies.
On Jan. 25, deputies finally caught up with Nester at his home, and he fled again. Eventually he was arrested and allegedly had 92 grams of methamphetamine on his person.
Authorities caught up with Bilyeu a couple of days later in Lowgap.
Though Nester was being held at the Surry County Detention Center, charged with state offenses, the press release notes he and 23 others are now in federal custody on the charge of conspiring to traffic methamphetamine.
The other 20 individuals who have been arrested by federal authorities are Sanson P. Rodriguez, of Lexington, Walter “Butch” Sexton, of Galax, Virginia, Larry Sellers, of Fries, Virginia, Brittany Cochran, of Fries, Virginia, Timothy Bowman, of Ararat, Virginia, Annette Freeman, of Hillsville, Virginia, Brad Hunley, of Hillsville, Virginia, Shawanna Phipps, of Elk Creek, Virginia, Brian Graff, of Independence, Virginia, Riley Alley, of Galax, Virginia, Calvin Jermaine Maxwell, of Galax, Virginia, David Norman, of Galax, Virginia, Lalena Long, of Meadows of Dan, Virginia, Jonathan Choate, of Independence, Virginia, Kevin Humphries, of Cana, Virginia, Jackie Christopher Parsons, of Independence, Virginia, Jessalyn Jones, of Independence, Virginia, Vicky Grose, whose address is unknown, Stacey Jerome Sawyers, of Fries, Virginia, and Travis Brian Anders, of Elk Creek, Virginia.
It is not yet known whether those, like Nester, who also face state charges will be tried in state court prior to facing the federal justice system.
Surry County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Lauren Osborne said his office is not authorized to release any further information regarding the federal arrests.
The press release indicates that Operation Rolling Thunder has resulted in the arrests of some of the area’s largest methamphetamine distributors. However, the efforts to apprehend additional suspects are ongoing.
Organizations which have taken part in the ongoing operation include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, the Mount Airy Police Department, the Grayson County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office, the Carroll County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Galax Police Department, the Lexington Police Department,the U.S. Marshalls Service, and the U.S. Secret Service.