21 indicted on drug charges in Lauderdale County - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

21 indicted on drug charges in Lauderdale County

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RIPLEY, TN -

(WMC-TV) – Dozens of suspects are in jail after investigators say they busted a huge drug ring Thursday in Lauderdale County, TN.

Ripley's a small town of about 7,500 and federal agents say a large drug trafficking organization set up roots there in hopes of staying off the radar.

United States Attorney Ed Stanton, flanked by federal and state authorities, spoke to the media Thursday hours after a massive drug bust in Lauderdale County.

"You can no longer hide in small towns and rural areas of West Tennessee," Stanton said.

Federal prosecutors indicted 21 people with street names like: Killer, Eight ball, Lil Bull, Big Latt, Bo Rock, Willie Boy, Danky and Dirt.

Investigators say they all work for a Ripley-based drug trafficking organization and now face steep criminal penalties.

"Up to 40 years," Stanton said. "These defendants are facing federal time as well as up to a $5 million fine."

Stanton said federal agents confiscated tens of thousands of dollars, plus guns and drugs.

Stanton declined to answer when asked if the indictments are connected to recent and ongoing disturbances on Gay Street.

Prosecutors say the investigation began in January 2011 after several tips and complaints from the community.

"We have heard the people of Lauderdale County loud and clear," said Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General. "We want to send a message to the residents - there is a consequence for criminal behavior."

Investigators rounded up 19 people Thursday morning.

Two remain on the loose, but their names aren't being released while agents search for them.

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