Science Teacher Nabbed for Drug Trafficking

By Dirk Hanson 05/23/11

A lengthy investigation brings down a school-house drug ring in Tennessee.

Breaking Bad?

It could have been an episode straight out of AMC’s hit series about the meth trade, Breaking Bad. A seven-year investigation in Tennessee dubbed “Operation Street Sweeper” ended last Friday with the arrest of 23 suspects, one of whom was high school science teacher Jennifer Mitchell, 38. Mitchell was arrested at her home in Kingsport, Tennessee, and charged with participating in a distribution scheme that had been moving serious amounts of OxyContin, cocaine, and marijuana for almost 15 years. The investigation ranged across four different states, and an additional 70 individuals have already been charged in association with the case. Prosecutors would not divulge details pertaining to the case, but U.S Attorney William C. Killian did say that “there is a fair amount of drugs,” and that “this has been going on since 1998.” Killian would only add that Mitchell and her associates trafficked drugs in Tennessee, Virginia, Michigan, and Florida. Mitchell has been a teacher at Sullivan Central High School in Blountville, Tennessee, since 2002, according to The Kingsport Times-News. Her supervisor at the school declined to comment on Mitchell.

We have to say, this was no routine takedown: The operation ultimately involved The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Drug Task Force, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, the Southwest Virginia Task Force, the Bristol Tennessee Police and several other city police departments, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the D.E.A., the Internal Revenue Service, and many others. Law enforcement, it seems fair to say, had this bunch of miscreants pretty well surrounded.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]