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Last member of Kingsport pot distribution ring sentenced

Matthew Lane • Nov 20, 2018 at 9:17 AM

GREENEVILLE — The final actor in a major marijuana distribution ring in Kingsport and the surrounding area has been sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison.

Christopher Scott Burchett, 36, of Kingsport, received a 188-month prison sentence in U.S. District Court in Greeneville last week. Burchett and nine others were charged in an 11-count indictment in November 2016, charging them with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and multiple firearm and money laundering charges.

All of the other defendants have been sentenced. Burchett was the last, agreeing to plead guilty to conspiracy, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and money laundering.

MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY

According to the plea agreement, Burchett admitted to being responsible for at least 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, purchasing large quantities from numerous sources in Oregon and California, which were then re-distributed to customers in East Tennessee.

This was done beginning in 2013 and continuing through November 2016.

In order to run this organization, prosecutors say Burchett recruited and employed numerous co-conspirators to make trips to Oregon with large sums of cash, obtain the marijuana and transport it back to East Tennessee for resale.

According to court records, Burchett paid these accomplices up to $10,000 per trip out west. The marijuana would often be contained in hidden locations in vehicles to avoid detection from law enforcement. In addition to marijuana, Burchett also purchased Butane Honey Oil (BHO or hashish oil) from sources in Oregon, brought it back to East Tennessee and resold it.

Once law enforcement moved in and arrested Burchett, they found he possessed 70 pistols, rifles and shotguns, all the while being a convicted felon. He was convicted in 2009 on marijuana charges. In addition to purchasing firearms with proceeds from his marijuana dealings, Burchett also purchased numerous vehicles and tracks of land.

During a search of his residence, law enforcement found $285,000 in cash, another $250,000 in cash in the saddlebags of his Harley Davidson motorcycle and $35,000 in cash stored in a safe.

PARTNER IN CRIME

One of Burchett’s co-defendants, Chad Allen Dorton, 35, of Kingsport, proceeded to trial in September 2017. Evidence and testimony introduced at trial showed the conspirators purchased, transported, and distributed 2,500 to 3,700 pounds of marijuana during the conspiracy, with a street value of $12 million to $18 million.

All of the drugs were distributed in Kingsport and surrounding areas. Following the trial, Dorton was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. He was sentenced on December 4, 2017, to serve 168 months in federal prison.

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