On Friday September 25, 2015, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Unit, United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration, Damascus Virginia Police Department and Johnson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office arrested seven people to end a 10-month investigation into a group that had been manufacturing methamphetamine using pseudoephedrine products purchased in all three states.
Six of the seven were arrested in Johnson County, Tennessee and a seventh was arrested in Damascus, Virginia. All are being held without bond waiting on extradition.
Michael Lipford, 29, of Butler, Tennessee led the group and was the “cook”, the one actually manufacturing the methamphetamine while the others; David Lipford, 49, Gail Lipford, 48, Jason Lipford, 32, Stormie Morefield, 23, Joey Church, 25, and Dale Brown, 46 were the “Smurfs”, the ones collecting the items needed to manufacture methamphetamine. Kelly Thomas, 26, was previously arrested in relation to this group as well and is currently out on bond.
It is believed that this group is responsible for the production of over 200 grams of methamphetamine.