A husband and wife in Claxton allegedly told police officers during a narcotics-related search on Wednesday that they bought 20 grams of heroin per day for resale, and they had been selling the illegal drug for about six months, according to Anderson County court records.
Agents who searched the home on King Street with a warrant last week found a suspected fentanyl-heroin compound that weighed about 10 grams, according to court affidavits and Simon Byrne, director of the Seventh Judicial District Crime Task Force.
The agents also found seven guns, suspected marijuana, drug paraphernalia that included baggies and scales, ammunition and magazines, and a large amount of cash, according to the affidavits, which were filed by CTF agent Perry Lewis.
The suspected heroin was in several bags, and it tested positive for a fentanyl compound, said the affidavits, which were filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge. The husband and wife, Timothy Duane Fritz, 48, and Atosha Leann Fritz, 41, said they got the heroin from an unknown man in Knoxville, according to Lewis.
The weapons found during the search on Wednesday included a Smith and Wesson 9mm handgun, a Lorcin .22-caliber handgun, an Anderson AR15 rifle, a Taurus Curve .380 handgun, a Smith and Wesson .22 revolver, a Colt Police Positive .38 handgun, and an Escort Magnum 12-gauge shotgun, the affidavits said.
Timothy Fritz said the firearms were for safety since they were selling drugs, according to Lewis.
Lewis said some of the cash that was seized during the search was determined to be “buy money” from the CTF that had been used to purchase heroin from Fritz previously (presumably in undercover operations). This can be shown by documented serial numbers on the bills, Lewis said.
Agents also found digital data recovered from cell phones, Byrne said in a press release last week.
Fritz has been charged with seven alleged crimes. Five are felonies: manufacturing, delivering, selling, or possessing a Schedule I substance; manufacturing, delivering, selling, or possessing a Schedule II substance; criminal conspiracy; possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony; and maintaining a dwelling for the use of narcotics, according to the affidavits and Byrne.
Fritz has also been charged with two misdemeanors: child abuse and neglect, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The affidavits said the 15-year-old son of Timothy and Atosha lives in the home with them, “which directly places the child in danger during drug transactions.”
Bond for Timothy Fritz has been set at $190,000. He remained jailed in the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on Monday. He will be appointed a public defender, and his next court date is set for September 22.
Atosha Fritz was charged with the same crimes, and she was also charged with tampering with evidence for a total of eight counts. The tampering with evidence charge, which is also a felony, alleged that a small bag of suspected heroin was found in the toilet, and a witness said Atosha flushed more heroin down the toilet as officers entered the home.
Bond for Atosha Fritz was set at $215,000. She also remained jailed in the Anderson County Detention Facility on Monday, and she also has a court date set for September 22. Defense attorney Matt Tuck has been appointed to represent Atosha Fritz, according to court records.
Lewis said Atosha Fritz admitted that another man sells heroin for her and her husband, and that the other man was at the King Street home before agents arrived. This statement was consistent with a hand-to-hand transaction that agents observed on nearby Queen Street, after the man left King Street, Lewis said.
Anderson County Sheriff Russell Barker said the fentanyl-heroin compound is a deadly drug that is causing overdoses, often fatal, every month, so the seizure last week will help save lives.
Seventh Judicial District Attorney General Dave Clark said the increase in heroin-fentanyl compounds in East Tennessee is alarming.
“We are seeing drug dealers mix in deadly fentanyl to heroin and even counterfeit prescription pain pills,” Clark said. “The work of the CTF in combating this deadly illegal fentanyl distribution is important in making our community safer.”
The Seventh Judicial Crime Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional task force comprised of the Seventh Judicial District Attorney General’s Office, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Clinton Police Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, Oliver Springs Police Department, and Rocky Top Police Department. The Crime Task Force focuses on drug crimes and violent crimes.
The press release last week also cited the help of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the United States Marshals Service’s Smoky Mountains Fugitive Task Force, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Tennessee Army National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, Department of Homeland Security Investigations, and Tennessee Department of Correction.
The press release said all weights, counts, and identity of the illegal substances allegedly found Wednesday are pending crime laboratory results from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. If you have information about this case or any other drug activity, you can call the Seventh Judicial District Crime Task Force tip line at (865) 361-5700.