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Tennessee Man Convicted in Connection with Major Synthetic Drug Conspiracy

Synthetic drug a-PVP (alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone), known on the street as “gravel” or “flakka,” and described by users as “meth on steroids,” has been the center of a recent investigation in northeast Tennessee, southwest Virginia and western North Carolina.

Among those involved was Chuckey, Tennessee native Joshua Brandon Hinkle. The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Hinkle was sentenced on October 20, 2015 to serve 110 months in federal prison due to his involvement in the extensive a-PVP distribution conspiracy in northeast Tennessee and surrounding areas. Hinkle admitted to taking around 30 to 40 trips to North Carolina to obtain the drug, and bringing approximately 2,000 grams (2 kilograms) back to the Eastern District of Tennessee.

The drug is dangerous not only to users, but also to the law enforcement officers who interact with those users. Some dangerous effects of the drug include extreme paranoia, high body temperature and blood pressure, paranoia, delirium, hostility, staying awake for days, and having exceptional strength without apparent fatigue.

Eleven others have been convicted in connection with this a-PVP conspiracy, and have been sentenced to a range from 110 to 235 months in federal prison. These others include Richard McNeal Hillman, Ronnie Lee Shelton, Austin Michael Stallard, Johnny Michael Stallard, Desera Jade Allen, Phillip Wayne Mullins, Johnny White, Michael Ray Mangum, Eric Matthew Vance, Evelyn Vickers and James Elmer Mclain.

Law enforcement agencies participating in this investigation included the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Homeland Security Investigations, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, Kingsport Police Department, Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department, Johnson City Police Department, Greeneville, Tennessee Police Department, Hendersonville, North Carolina Police Department, and Scott County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office.

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