COFFEE COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new special investigative unit (SIU) in Coffee County is working a narcotics hot spot that feeds into much of Middle Tennessee. There, investigators have made several arrests and confiscated drugs and bundles of cash.
Manchester and Coffee County have become a strategic stopping point for drug contraband that comes into the state.
"We are at a crossroads for industrial, music and also for guns and drugs," said Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin.
They're focusing their efforts along the I-24 corridor linking Atlanta to Chicago and Sheriff Partin wants to collapse that pipeline.
"We know it's coming here so let's stop it here before it gets distributed to all the other little Manchesters and Tullahomas across the U.S.," said Partin.
To that end, the sheriff partnered with Tullahoma Police Chief Jason Williams and Manchester Police Chief Yogi Yother to set up a special investigative Unit.
The SIU team gathered for this interview, but we didn't show their faces since they work undercover and have been out making busts.
"This unit provides ongoing drug investigations," said Chief Yother.
Chief Williams agreed and says that is a priority.
"We need to be aggressive when it comes to how we are dealing with the drug problem in our community," said Chief Williams.
In the past year, since the SIU was created agents have confiscated more than a million dollars in cash, guns and narcotics. Local meth labs are pretty much a thing of the past.
"We have gotten a lot more crystal meth from Mexico and through the cartel and distributed from Atlanta," said the sheriff.
And with the busts come dozens of recent arrests. All the suspects facing felony charges many of them now in the federal system and facing decades behind bars.
"I do think the dealers are aware we are coming after them ... and we'll continue to fight and we're going to win," said Yother.
And it's not just drug charges. Several suspects have been charged with second-degree murder for selling tainted narcotics that led to a death. The SIU task force recently received The Community Changing Award from the Tennessee Narcotics Association.