GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – Drug agents say the prime target was studying to be a nurse, living in a tiny Tennessee apartment with her mother and her small child.
But agents say looks can be deceiving.
Investigators say the woman arrested is a major player in a cartel operated narcotics operation that was threatening to flood Middle Tennessee streets with narcotics.
One of the key drug agents in the operation says, “to have this amount of drugs in an apartment with a kid is shocking.”
The raid in Sumner County, Tennessee went down on Jan. 30. It was an investigation that was begun by Metro police in Nashville. Agents say one of the targets in that investigation had strong ties to Sumner County, so the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force was brought into the operation.
That’s when Metro Police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force raided a storage locker and a Gallatin apartment.
Officers hit the jackpot at both locations.
In the end, they seized four pounds of meth, 1.5 pounds of heroin, and more than half a pound of fentanyl.
Drug agents say a few grains of fentanyl can kill.
Investigators say after all the drugs are cut with heroin and other cutting agents and then sold on the streets, the drugs would be worth close to $400,000.
At the apartment, agents seized close to $10,000 stuffed in a paper sack. The drug agent says the money is all drug proceeds.
During the operation, 30-year-old Pearline Neal was arrested.
Agents say the single mother was shocked, saying very little while agents searched her home.
Drug agents say the nursing student was living in a small apartment with her mother and small child.
Drug agents say the child could have easily found the drugs.
“The heroin was in a clothes bag. That was easy for the kid to go snooping. And the next thing you know, they are holding a rock of heroin. And bricks of pure heroin hidden in a bag.”
According to investigators, Neal has no prior criminal record.
Agents say there’s no doubt this dope has ties to a Mexican cartel and Pearline Neal is much more than just some street-level dealer.
“She would obviously meet someone directly related to the Mexican cartel or someone transporting the drugs for the cartel. Most of the times, with this kind of weight, the only people above these people are the cartel, or they are the people running the drugs up here from the cartel.”
Neal may have had no prior criminal history, but she is now looking at potential years in prison.
Neal is in the Sumner County jail under a $1 million bond.