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ROGERSVILLE — A traffic stop Thursday night led Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office deputies to an alleged methamphetamine manufacturing operation and also uncovered alleged food stamp fraud.

The HCSO Narcotics Unit was conducting a highway drug interdiction operation in the area of Spruce Pine Road when Sgt. Lynn Campbell and Deputy Jeff Hilton observed that the driver of a white 1997 Dodge Dakota traveling west on Spruce Pine Road was not wearing a seat belt.

The Narcotics Unit also recognized the driver, Vance Edgar “Dank” Lawson Jr., 44, of Morristown, as being the subject of numerous complaints of meth manufacturing.

As the Dodge Dakota came to a stop, police said a male passenger identified as Billy Robert Jr., 32, 314 Lee Valley Road, Whitesburg, exited the vehicle and fled on foot but was quickly apprehended. The other occupants of the vehicle were identified as Rita Faye Lawson, 40, and Nicky Lawson.

“As officers were speaking to Mr. Lawson he was observed to be in possession of a glass pipe, which he confirmed he used to smoke meth with,” Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said. “During a search of the vehicle, officers located a ‘Benefit Security Card’ that had been issued to Gerald K. Pearson. Mr. Lawson stated that he had purchased the card for $75.

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