The Second Judicial District Drug Task Force (DTF) was formed in 1988 through funding by then Governor Ned Ray McWherter’s Drug Free Tennessee program. The DTF is overseen by the District Attorney General and the Task Force Board of Directors comprised of the District Attorney, the Sullivan County Sheriff, the Kingsport Police Chief, and the Bristol Police Chief. Each of these agencies, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, has officers assigned to full-time duty on the Task Force.
Since its inception, the DTF has targeted mid-level and above drug dealers and suppliers. Over the years the focus has become investigating and prosecuting major conspiracy cases involving not only those who sell large quantities of illegal drugs in Sullivan County, but also those who supply them. An example of such a case was the Arcia/Spears cocaine network wherein eight persons, including Paul Spears of Kingsport and Jesus Arcia of Miami, Florida, were indicted for the Class A felony of conspiring to distribute over 300 grams of cocaine in Sullivan County. The total amount of cocaine involved over the nine-month investigation was around three kilos. Of the other six defendants, one was from Kingsport, one from Virginia, and the other four were residents of the Miami, Florida area. All co-conspirators were convicted and the sentences ranged from eight to thirty-five years.
The most recent conspiracy investigation has resulted in eighteen persons being indicted for the Class A felony: conspiracy to distribute over 300 grams of crack cocaine in Sullivan County. That investigation covered a full year. Eleven of the defendants were from out of state (primarily Ohio) and four were from the metropolitan areas of Tennessee. All but one of the cases have been successfully concluded with sentences ranging from ten to fifty years. Several of these defendants sold drugs within in 1000 feet of a school, which precludes them from ever being eligible for parole.