18 arrested, 1 remains wanted on 66 total charges related to Montgomery County meth investigation

Operation Crankdown netted 18 arrests

By Jeff Williamson - Digital Content Manager, Alison Wickline - Reporter, Samantha Smith - Digital Content Producer

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. - UPDATE

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office has arrested two more people in connection to Operation Crankdown, while one man remains wanted. 

46-year-old Daniel Price of Blacksburg and 23-year-old Alexis Bentley of Floyd have both been arrested, according to the sheriff's office. 

Price was charged with three counts of conspiracy to distribute meth, and Bentley was charged with one count of distribution of meth.

Brandon Sweeney, 37, of Radford, is still wanted one count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of meth


After more than a year of investigating the distribution of crystal meth in Montgomery County, law enforcement officials arrested 16 people on drug charges on Friday.

Through the course of the investigation, law enforcement made numerous arrests.

From July through September 2017, members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office VICE Unit and Christiansburg Police Department conducted multiple controlled purchases of crystal meth directly from Alexis Bentley, Aaron Hixon, Troy Donaghy and Jeremy Elliott, according to the Sheriff's Office.

VIEW THE MUGSHOTS OF THE 19 CHARGED IN CONNECTION WITH THE GRAND JURY INDICTMENT

Deputies found that there was one primary source of the meth and the group of people were conspiring together to transport and distribute meth within the county.

Through the investigation, deputies found that Hixon was supplying Montgomery County and the New River Valley with crystal meth, according to the Sheriff's Office.

After his arrest on unrelated charged on Jan. 9, 2018, deputies were able to ascertain that the majority of the meth being distributed in the county was being transported from Sylvester, Georgia, or Albany, Georgia.

On Sept. 5, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged the following four people:

  1. Troy Donaghy - Charged with one count of possession of meth and a count of possession of drug paraphernalia
  2. Brandon Keister - Charged with one count of possession of meth
  3. Thelma Keister - Charged with one count of possession of meth
  4. Michael Hughes - Charged with one count of possession of a firearm while possessing a Schedule II narcotic and one count of possession with the intent to distribute meth

On Sept. 18, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office arrested and charged the following two people:

  1. Renee Buckland - Charged with one count possession of meth and one count of possession of a firearm while possessing a Schedule II narcotic
  2. Michael Dowdy - Charged with one count of possession of a Schedule II narcotic and one count of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute

A multiā€jurisdictional grand jury investigation was started in April 2018 and was used through Oct. 26, and found that Hixon was responsible for at least 18 trips to Georgia for the purpose of transporting methamphetamine back into Montgomery County from Sept. 1, 2017, through Jan. 9, 2018, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.

Those trips resulted in at least 1,022 grams of methamphetamine being brought back to Montgomery County to be distributed.

The grand jury issued indictments against 19 people for a total of 66 charges:

  1. Aaron Hixon, 44, of Blacksburg, was charged with one count of operating a continuing criminal enterprise to distribute over 250 grams of methamphetamine, one count of distribution of methamphetamine and 18 counts of transporting over an ounce of meth into the commonwealth
  2. Brandon Keister, 31, of Blacksburg, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of meth, one count of conspiracy to transport over an ounce of meth into the commonwealth and one count of transporting over an ounce of meth into the commonwealth
  3. Daniel Price, 46, of Blacksburg, was charged with three counts of conspiracy to distribute meth
  4. Harsh Chauhan, 22, of Christiansburg, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute meth
  5. Dawnya Sawyers, 33, of Christiansburg, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute meth
  6. Ronald Keister, 53, of Blacksburg, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute meth
  7. Troy Donaghy, 55, of Christiansburg, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of meth, two counts of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and four counts of second or subsequent offense distribution of meth
  8. Michael Dowdy, 53, of Blacksburg, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of meth and one count of possession with the intent to distribute meth
  9. Shawn Santolla, 35, of Giles County, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute meth, one count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth and two counts of transporting over one ounce of meth into the commonwealth
  10. Jason Fizer, 38, of Pilot, was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of meth into the commonwealth, one count of conspiracy to distribute meth and three counts of transporting over one ounce of meth into the commonwealth
  11. Terry Miller, 55, of Giles County, was charged with one count of transporting over one ounce of meth into the commonwealth and one count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth
  12. Heather Hixon, 43, of Blacksburg, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute meth, one count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of meth into the commonwealth and three counts of transporting over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth
  13. Donna Collins, 61, of Albany, Georgia, was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of meth into the commonwealth and one count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of meth
  14. Eric Tollefson, 54, of Albany, Georgia, was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of meth into the commonwealth and one count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of meth
  15. Trista Smith, 33, of Blacksburg, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute meth, one count of conspiracy to transport over one ounce of meth into the commonwealth and one count of transporting over one ounce of methamphetamine into the commonwealth
  16. Jonathan Smith, 45, of Blacksburg, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute meth
  17. Jeremy Elliott, 32, of Blacksburg, was charged with one count of distribution of meth, one count of possession of meth with the intent to distribute and two counts of conspiracy to distribute meth
  18. Brandon Sweeney, 37, of Radford, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute over 10 grams of meth
  19. Alexis Bentley, 23, of Floyd County, was charged with one count of distribution of meth

Last Friday, 16 of the 19 people named in the indictment were arrested.

U.S. Marshals in Albany Georgia located and arrested Tollefson and Collins in Albany, Georgia.

During the execution of arrest warrants, the U.S. Marshals located 18 total firearms, including one stolen firearm, a machine gun and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Charges are pending in reference to the firearms.

Collins and Tollefson are pending extradition back to Montgomery County for their charges.

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

Price, Bentley and Sweeney are still wanted by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

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