He was the only one of 42 people indicted earlier this year to go to trial in an unprecedented meth-making conspiracy, and now the Lake City man has been found guilty, authorities said Friday.
After a three-day federal trial, a jury convicted Jeffrey Scott Braden of conspiracy to manufacture 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; the possession of equipment, chemicals, products, and materials that can be used to make it; and being a felon in possession of ammunition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Braden was tried in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.
The 42 people indicted by a federal grand jury in March included many Anderson County residents. In a press release Friday, U.S. Attorney William C. Killian of the Eastern District of Tennessee said the 17-count indictment followed a long-term investigation designed to address the fact that Anderson County led all counties in Tennessee for meth lab seizures. The initiative was named “Operation Meth-odical Destruction.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said 38 other people have pleaded guilty in the case, two others have signed plea agreements that are on file with the court, and one defendant remains a fugitive.
Sentencing for Braden is set for 2 p.m., Feb. 20, 2014, in U.S. District Court in Knoxville before Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan. Braden faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole because he has several prior felony drug convictions.
Killian said the evidence presented at trial included Braden’s confessions to repeatedly manufacturing methamphetamine, testimony about seized chemicals and meth lab components in which Braden was a “cook,” testimony of co-conspirators, and proof of his prior criminal history as a convicted felon.
After the verdict was returned, Killian said: “There was a large-scale meth manufacturing problem in Anderson County, and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies teamed up to combat it. It has been addressed. This conviction and the life sentence which Braden faces serves as a lesson to anyone in this district that serious punishment awaits those who repeatedly manufacture methamphetamine.”
Law enforcement agencies participating in the joint investigation that led to the indictment and the subsequent conviction of Braden included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Lewen Jr. represented the United States at trial.