Sheriff: Out-of-state fugitives believed to have operated 'chop shop'
Hawkins County detectives raided a business they say was a decoy for a hub of criminal activity.
Officers told News 5 four people were arrested and two of them were wanted fugitives from other states.
Jamie Begley described it as a scene from television. "You wake up, and it's like you're in an episode of Cops all of a sudden," said Begley.
He watched as Hawkins County deputies raided the building directly across the street from his home on Marble Hall Road. "There was a lot of men down there; a lot of men. They went in the top and the bottom all at the same time, [they] busted in the doors and went on in with guns drawn," Begley described.
Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson told News 5 Gary Raymond Mirkos, Suzanne Sibley Hoffman, Mark Anthony Ramierz, and Randy James Wilson are now facing charges.
The sheriff said he believes the investigation revealed possible chop shop and narcotics operations fronted as a motorcycle business. "They were still manufacturing some bikes, but they were also covering up their wrong-doing by they were trying to get VIN numbers off certain vehicles," said Sheriff Lawson.
Lawson said detectives made their move once they saw and confirmed Mirkos and Hoffman were wanted fugitives out of Mississippi and Texas. "The warning on the criminal histories was that these individuals were armed and dangerous," said Lawson.
During the investigation, officers said they found a 2006 Volvo coming and going from the shop. Officials said it had been reported stolen from Mississippi.
According the authorities, the vehicle was found behind the home of Randy James Wilson, of Hawkins County. Officials said he has the keys, as well.
Lawson said other items were discovered inside the building some of the suspects were renting. "Se also found a stolen Harley Davidson engine [and a] Harley Davidson transmission. [We] found several weapons, three shotguns, and a pistol, and of course the marijuana and pills that [were] found," Lawson added.
According the sheriff, unsuspecting customers were likely coming and going, never knowing criminal activity was allegedly happening behind the scenes.
It's still alarming to those like Begley who live so close.
He hopes a scene like that never shows up his community ever again. "Maybe that will show everybody else even though it's a small town it ain't going to get by here either," said Begley.
Here's a breakdown of the charges filed:
Gary Raymond Mirkos and Suzanne Sibley Hoffman are charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, drug paraphernalia, and maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are housed or sold among several other charges.
Mark Anthony Ramierez is charged with possessing schedule IV substances and drug paraphernalia.
Randy James Wilson, of Hawkins County, is charged with theft of property over $500 by possession.
The investigation is ongoing.
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