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Stanford police bust Kings Mountain drug operation

August 13, 2009|By MICHAEL BROIHIER

Stanford City police broke up a huge drug dealing operation in Kings Mountain last week.

Nelson Lee Harrison, 59, was taken into custody Aug. 6. Police impounded 19 firearms, a pound of marijuana, 350 prescription pills and $77,925 in cash.

Stanford Police Chief Keith Middleton said a traffic stop earlier in the day, in cooperation with a Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement (KVE) K-9 unit, had yielded a substantial amount of marijuana and the subject had tipped officers off to the source.

Middleton said officers were able to obtain a search warrant for Harrison's home at 4800 Ky. 501 that turned out to be a "fortress." Harrison's log home had an advanced security system, windows inaccessible from the ground and bars for the doors made out of 2- by 8-inch boards.

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Middleton said flawless execution of the warrant at 11 p.m. prevented the search from escalating into a dangerous situation.

"We rolled in there so fast that he didn't have time to respond," Middleton said.

Luck was with the Stanford officers, backed by two KVE officers, and the front door wasn't barred.

"The door was open and there was just a screen door in place so they just blew right through it and he (Harrison) knew we had him."

When officers confronted Harrison he had a shotgun within reach and his wife had .357 magnum revolver tucked down next to her seat cushion.

Considering the size of Harrison's operation, it was a complete surprise to local law enforcement.

"This guy was completely beneath the radar," Middleton said.

Harrison had no previous contact with local law enforcement and no known previous criminal record.

The scope of the Harrison's operation became apparent as officers catalogued their take and looked deeper into Harrison's dealings. Middleton said he feels like what they uncovered is probably the tip of the iceberg; one of the items seized was a ledger book filled with records of drug transactions. The book contained an extensive list of buyers' names and amounts owed, he said.

The volume of drugs Harrison appeared to be moving in this small community is staggering. The transactions seem to indicate that Harrison was routinely making deals of $15,000 to $20,000, with some as high as $40,000. Some of Harrison's buyers were given credit on good faith, and others left items, such as a Harley Davidson motorcycle, as surety for their deal.

As the investigation progressed more was learned of Harrison that is helping the Stanford Police build their case. Middleton said that with no visible means of support other than a disability check, Harrison still owns, free and clear, his home, a farm, a home in Moreland, other area properties and several motorcycles, all paid for in cash.

Police would not comment on whether they had found additional drugs or weapons on Harrison's other properties and vehicles.

Stanford officers will be following up on the information gathered from the seizure and hope to quickly roll up many of those in Harrison's book. For the time, Middleton is pleased with his department, particularly the work of Captain Rick Edwards and Officer Anthony Pinkston.

"You know, you watch and watch and watch," he said. "You deal with the nickel and dimers and sometimes you finally get to work your way up the food chain."

Middleton also singled out local KVE Officer Matt Hutti for his support in the arrest.

Edwards said state police and KVE are both assisting Stanford police with the investigation "in various ways."

Harrison was charged with felony trafficking in marijuana and felony trafficking in controlled substances before he was bonded out of the Lincoln County Regional Jail on Friday on a $5,000 cash bond. Harrison's wife was not arrested.

Harrison will be arraigned at 1 p.m. on Sept. 14.

Advocate-Messenger Staff Writer Ben Kleppinger contributed to this story.

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