A Metter jewelry store owner and one of his employees are behind bars after state and local law enforcement officers nabbed them on drug charges earlier this week.
According to Metter Advertiser reporter Jerri Goodman, Thomas Edward Stoe, 73, owner of Buffalo Nickel Jewelers, remains in the Candler County Jail without bond after Georgia Bureau of Investigations agents charged him with 21 felony accounts Monday , including illegal sales of prescription drugs.
Kathy Edwards Lanigan, 50, was working at the store that day and was charged as well, according to reports.
Candler County Sheriff Homer Bell and Metter Police Chief William Hooper said more arrests are expected.
GBI Agent Fred Stephens, out of the Atlanta office, told the Advertiser "This is the culmination of a prescription drug investigation. It started at (Buffalo Nickel) but it's kind of fingered its way out into a couple of different counties. This is just the beginning; it's not over."
He called the Metter jewelry store "kind of Ground Zero for illegal prescription distribution."
Stoe had been "diverting" prescriptions as well as buying drugs from others, then selling them from his store, he said, adding that Stoe is a "drug trafficker, not just a guy who is selling prescription medication, which sounds so innocent."
Tri-Circuit Drug Task Force Agent Chuck Sullenger said the Stoe's home, business and vehicles were searched and agents would determine the identities of Stoe's suppliers. Stoe admitted the jewelry store was a front for selling prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and muscle relaxers.
Stoe was charged with unlawful use of communications (seven counts), possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime ( two counts), sale of Schedule II hydromorphone, sale of Schedule IV alprazolam (Xanax), sale of Schedule III hydrocodone (six counts), and sale of Schedule III oxycodone (four counts), reports stated.
Lanigan was charged with sale of Schedule III hydrocodone. She was given a bond of $20,000 and remained in jail Wednesday.
Goodman reported the GBI investigation had been ongoing since December.