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Federal Indictment Charges Six Men with Conspiracy to Make Meth, Two From Vilas & Banner Elk

Sept. 15, 2014. A federal indictment has charged six men with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Harry S. Sommers, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees the Charlotte District Office and Sheriff Len D. Hagaman of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office.

On Aug. 20, 2014, a federal grand jury returned a criminal indictment charging Bobby R. Coffey, 47 of Banner Elk, N.C.; Kenneth E. Barnes, 33, of Mountain City, Tenn.; Michael L. Whitehair, 35, of Vilas, N.C., Sean A. Smith, 29, of Statesville, N.C.; Donald L. Dennis, Jr., 28; and Jeremy D. Snyder, 37, of Mountain City with one count of conspiracy to manufacture five grams or more of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, and salts of its isomers, a Schedule II controlled substance. All defendants except Coffey have also been charged with one count of possession of equipment, chemicals, and materials which may be used to manufacture methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, and salts of its isomers. According to allegations contained in the indictment and statements made in court, from 2011 to February 2014, in Watauga county and elsewhere, and the defendants conspired with each other to manufacture methamphetamine.

Barnes, Whitehair, Dennis and Snyder are currently detained. Smith has been released on bond. Coffey was arrested on Sept. 5, 2014 and is currently detained pending his detention hearing, which has been scheduled for Sept. 25, 2014, before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer.

The sentencing range for the conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine is a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The statutory maximum sentence for possession of materials to make methamphetamine is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The investigation was handled by DEA and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office. The prosecution is being handled for the government by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Dillon of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.