In the summer of 2011, state and local investigators broke up a large scale methamphetamine ring that was being operated out of the then-Budget Inn located off of Highway 441 in Jackson County that was owned by Michael James Taylor of Sylva.
The operation was led by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and assisted by the State Bureau of Investigation as well as the Macon County Sheriff's Office.
Since it was a federal investigation, the details of the case were not forthcoming.
Taylor was placed under arrest along with nine other suspects. Taylor, the alleged ring leader of the 'Taylor Organization' the name of the drug ring, was sentenced on Dec. 23, 2013. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced him to 324 months (27 years) in federal prison followed by 10 years of supervised probation upon release.
According to an affidavit, authorities began to investigate the large methamphetamine trafficking organization in November 2010. The ring conducted business in Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties as well as neighboring states.
“Taylor obtains large quantities of crystal methamphetamine from sources of supply in South Carolina, some of which are then delivered to North Carolina by, among others, Pedro Avila Serrano,” reads the affidavit. “Taylor and the members of the Taylor Organization often conduct their narcotics trafficking activities at and/or out of Taylor's motel.”
Using informants who agreed to help DEA agents in exchange for reduced sentences, information was gathered about the organizations and deals were transacted.
After obtaining wiretaps, authorities were able to stop one of Taylor's dealers in Highlands, N.C., and as a result of a consensual search, found 5.8 ounces of meth in a magnetized toolbox that was located underneath the vehicle.
This incident in particular along with multiple arrests were capped off when one of the informants told investigators that drug runner Pedro Serrano was en route to Taylor's motel from Greenville, S.C., and was transporting a large quantity of methamphetamine. Once the vehicle was stopped, police found 513 grams of the drug and the automobile was registered in Taylor's name. The incident led to the eventual arrest and prosecution of Taylor.