TN: Couple arrested after discovery of pill press

The Citizen Tribune –

A Washington County couple is facing drug charges as a result of a pharmaceutical pill press in Surgoinsville.

According to a release from Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson, around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Hawkins County Deputy Stephanie Bolognese was dispatched to an abandoned vehicle located near the intersection of Phipps Bend Road and Main Street in Surgoinsville.

A man, identified as Elliot Shaw, age 28, of Johnson City and a woman, identified as Chelsea Isbell, age 29, of Gray, advised Bolognese that their car had ran out of gas. Both suspects appeared to be under the influence.

During the investigation, Bolognese observed a pistol lying in open view inside the abandoned vehicle. A records check found that Shaw was a convicted felon from North Carolina for prostitution. Isbell was also previously convicted of automotive burglary.

Search of the vehicle led to the discovery of items indicative of a clandestine pharmaceutical pill press operation. In addition to the pill press, there were pill binder products, grinders, a respirator, nitrile gloves, unknown white powder and a container of white tablets that had been pressed to look like Xanax bars.

Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division was then requested due to the operation being a possible clandestine fentanyl laboratory. The narcotics division and the Tennessee Dangerous Drug Task Force responded and processed the scene. Samples were taken from the located items and sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for analysis to confirm if fentanyl was present. The investigation is currently ongoing.

Both Shaw and Isbell were charged with manufacture of Schedule IV controlled substance, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of Schedule IV controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and public intoxication. Both are being held in the Hawkins County Jail, pending arraignment in Hawkins County Criminal Court.

The following agencies assisted in the investigation: Tennessee Dangerous Drug Task Force, Surgoinsville Fire Department, Hawkins County EMS, and Hawkins County EMA.

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