“Mission District” drug dealer busted, police say 

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An alleged drug dealer who reportedly preyed on the homeless population near downtown Knoxville was arrested following a four-month-long investigation, police said Thursday.

Casey Austin, 47, of Knoxville, was taken into custody near the emergency shelter (or “Mission”) operated by Knox Area Rescue Ministries at 418 N. Broadway on Wednesday morning, according to Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Scott Erland.

“Austin’s arrest was the culmination of an ongoing Organized Crime Unit investigation to identify sources of heroin and meth being distributed in the Mission District of Knoxville,” Erland said.

“Austin, who has at least nine prior felony convictions, was identified as a possible source in the course of the investigation,” he continued. “Austin was approached and ultimately arrested by officers based on controlled purchases of meth that were made from him in February and March. Officers also saw Austin making apparent hand-to-hand drug transactions in the Mission area prior to his arrest.”

When Austin was searched, police allegedly found 40 grams of a substance believed to be methamphetamine that was packaged in separate bags as well as over $1,000 in cash, Erland explained.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances, investigators also obtained a search warrant for the hotel room where Austin was staying at the Hamilton Inn on Clyde Street,” said Erland. “In the room, investigators found an additional 86 grams of meth, two digital scales, three cell phones, and two other unknown substances.”

Austin was charged with multiple counts of manufacture, sale and delivery of meth, according to Erland.

Published on June 9, 2022.