SEVIERVILLE — As federal and state agencies searched the Sevier County Clerk’s office Thursday, new documents in federal court show some members of an alleged drug dealing ring are facing new charges related to falsifying documentation on stolen cars.
Agents from the FBI and Tennessee Department of Revenue were in the clerk’s office starting Thursday morning, and Sevier County Sheriff’s deputies cordoned off the hallway in front of that office for hours as they worked.
Questions were being referred to the FBI, where a spokesperson confirmed they were “carrying out law enforcement actions in connection with an ongoing investigation.”
Clerk Karen Cotter said her office was working with investigators on the case.
"The Sevier County Clerk’s office is cooperating fully with the FBI. It is my understanding that no public funds were misused,” she said.
In the meantime, federal prosecutors have filed new charges against Sevier County residents arrested last week in a drug investigation — charges that indicate they were stealing vehicles and obtaining stolen vehicles, and cleaning up the records on those vehicles in East Tennessee.
Juan Lopez Gallardo and Marco Antonio Cardenas were among six people arrested on federal drug trafficking charges in Sevier County last week.
New indictments in federal court indicate investigators have also learned they were stealing cars, and getting new, fake documentation on them in East Tennessee.
“During the charged conspiracy period defendants Juan Lopez Gallardo and Marco Antonio Cardenas created and obtained false title and registration documentation for the stolen vehicles,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Quencer wrote.
“During the charged conspiracy period defendants (Gallardo and Cardenas) titled and registered the stolen vehicles with the state of Tennessee, in the Eastern District, using false title and registration documentation to register the stolen vehicles.”
Officials had not said yet why they are investigating the clerk’s office Thursday evening, but the duties at that office include keeping track of license and registration for vehicles.