Operation Crankdown Takes on Crystal Meth Traffic

Since May 2017, members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office VICE Unit with the assistance of the Christiansburg Police Department VICE Unit and Montgomery County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office have diligently worked an investigation into the distribution of crystal methamphetamine in Montgomery County.

During the month of July 2017 through September 2017, members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office VICE Unit and Christiansburg Police Department conducted multiple controlled purchases of crystal methamphetamine directly from Alexis Bentley, Aaron Hixon, Troy Donaghy, and Jeremy Elliott. During the investigation, deputies found that there was one primary source of the methamphetamine, and the group of people were conspiring together to transport and distribute methamphetamine within Montgomery County.

Throughout the investigation, deputies found that Aaron Hixon was supplying Montgomery County and the New River Valley with crystal methamphetamine. After his arrest on unrelated charged on January 9, 2018, deputies were able to ascertain that the majority of the methamphetamine was being transported from Sylvester, Georgia or Albany, Georgia into Montgomery County.

A Multi‐jurisdictional grand jury investigation was started in April 2018 and was used through October 26, 2018.

During the course of the investigation, on September 5, 2018, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged four people with possession of methamphetamine and weapons charges:
1. Troy Donaghy (1) count of possession of methamphetamine and (1) count of possession of drug paraphernalia

2. Brandon Keister (1) count of possession of methamphetamine

3. Thelma Renee Keister (1) count of possession of methamphetamine

4. Michael Edward Hughes (1) count of possession of firearm while possessing a schedule 2 narcotic, and (1) count of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the following agencies and units during the September 5, 2018 operation:
1. Christiansburg Police Department VICE UNIT
2. Christiansburg ERT
3. Blacksburg Police Department CIU
4. Blacksburg ERT
5. Radford City Police Department Narcotics
6. Radford City ERT
7. Montgomery County Clandestine Lab Team
8. Blacksburg Rescue

As part of the investigation, on September 18, 2018, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged two people with the following:
1. Renee Woolwine Buckland (1) count possession of methamphetamine and (1)count of possession of firearm while possessing a firearm while possessing a schedule 2 narcotics

2. Michael Thomas Dowdy (1) count of possession of a schedule 2 narcotic (1) count of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute

During the September 18, 2018 operation, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the following agencies and units:
1. Christiansburg Police Department VICE unit
2. Blacksburg Police Department CIU

The result of the Multi‐jurisdictional grand jury investigation found Aaron Hixon was at least responsible for 18 trips to Georgia for the purpose of transporting methamphetamine back into Montgomery County from September 1, 2017 through January 9, 2018. Those trips resulted in at least 1022 grams of methamphetamine being brought back to Montgomery County to be distributed. The Grand Jury issued indictments on 19 people for a total of 66 charges:

1. Aaron Wayne Hixon 44 years old of Blacksburg was charged with (1) count of operating a continuing criminal enterprise to distribute over 250 grams of methamphetamine (1) count of distribution of methamphetamine (18) counts of transporting over an ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth

2. Brandon Michael Keister 31 years old of Blacksburg was charged with (1) count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of methamphetamine (1) count of conspiracy to transport over an ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth (1) count of transport over an ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth

3. Daniel Leonard Price 46 years old of Blacksburg (3) counts of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine

4. Harsh Chauhan 22 years old of Christiansburg (1) count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine

5. Dawnya Marie Sawyers 33 years old of Christiansburg (1) count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine

6. Ronald Michael Keister 53 years of age of Blacksburg (1) count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine

7. Troy Allen Donaghy 55 years of age of Christiansburg (1) count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of methamphetamine (2) counts of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (4) counts of second or subsequent offense distribution of methamphetamine

8. Michael Thomas Dowdy 53 years old of Blacksburg (1) count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of methamphetamine (1) count of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine

9. Shawn Clinton Santolla 35 years old of Giles County (1) count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (1)count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth (2) counts of transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth

10. Jason Aaron Fizer 38 years old of Pilot (1) count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth (1) count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (3)counts of transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth

11. Terry Wayne Miller 55 years old of Giles County (1) count of transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth and (1) count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth

12. Heather Renee Hixon 43 years of age of Blacksburg (1) count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (1) count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth (3) counts of transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth

13. Donna Jean Collins 61 years of age of Albany, Georgia (1) count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth (1) count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of methamphetamine

14. Eric Jon Tollefson 54 years of age of Albany, Georgia (1) count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth (1) count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of methamphetamine

15. Trista Gale Smith 33 years of age of Blacksburg (1) count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (1) count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth (1) count of transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth

16. Jonathan Michael Smith 45 years old of Blacksburg, (1) count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine

17. Jeremy Braden Elliott 32 years of age of Blacksburg (1) count of distribution of methamphetamine (1) count of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute (2) conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine

18. Brandon Dale Sweeney 37 years of age of Radford (1) count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of methamphetamine

19. Alexis Oneill Marie Bentley 23 years old of Floyd County, (1) count of distribution of methamphetamine

On November 2, 2018, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the US Marshal’s Service and Christiansburg Police Department executed the arrested warrants on 16 of the 19 above listed persons.

During the operation in Montgomery County, US Marshal’s in Albany Georgia located and arrested Eric Jon Tollefson and Donna Jean Collins in Albany, Georgia. During the execution of arrest warrants, the US Marshals located 18 total firearms to include (1) stolen firearm, (1) machine gun and over a 1000 rounds of ammunition. Charges are pending in reference to the firearms. Donna Collins and Eric Tollefson are pending extradition back to Montgomery County for their charges.

On November 2, 2018, 16 of the 19 persons were arrested and held without bond at various correctional facilities.

Still wanted by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office are:
1. Daniel Leonard Price
2. Alexis Oneill Marie Bentley
3. Brandon Dale Sweeney