Investigators seize enough fentanyl ‘to kill the entire population of rural West Tennessee’

A man with suspected ties to a gang operating in Middle Tennessee has been arrested on multiple drug charges after investigators said they found two pounds of fentanyl while serving warrants.

District Attorney Matthew Stowe said Tuesday that “a sizeable stash of illegal drugs, cash, weapons and vehicles” had been seized from multiple targeted locations during a long-term investigation that involved several agencies, including the Paris Police Department, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the TBI.

James Lee Payne, II, who faces multiple drug charges following his arrest Saturday, is suspected of having ties to a known gang operating in Henry County, Stowe said.

“The increasing numbers of gangs in our region has a direct correlation to violent crime, Stowe said in a statement. “We have seen drug trafficking, gang violence, and even human trafficking as organized groups spar for dominance over drug selling turfs.”

Stowe said the investigation led to multiple site searches in Henry County and East Tennessee. He revealed approximately 12 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately two pounds of fentanyl, some LSD, nearly 7 pounds of marijuana, a shotgun, five vehicles, and approximately $15,700 in cash were seized.

“To understand the importance of this seizure of illegal drugs, the amount of fentanyl discovered is lethal enough to kill the entire population of rural West Tennessee,” Stowe explained.

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