Lenoir City man jailed in major pot bust

Austin Rodriguez, a deputy with the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office, adds another marijuana plant to the growing collection of evidence.

A joint operation of Lenoir City Police Department, the 9th Judicial District Drug Task Force and Loudon County Sheriff’s Office led to the Feb. 11 arrest of John Nicholas Rebori, 39, after a large grow operation was found in his Lenoir City home.

“There were search warrants conducted on his business and at his residence,” Tony Aikens, Lenoir City mayor, said at a 3:30 p.m. press conference about the effort. “The drug task force has put in numerous amount of hours in making this case against this individual.”

The investigation started in early December when the task force learned about Rebori.

“After eight weeks or so, we were able to obtain enough probable cause to get search warrants signed this week, and so those warrants were executed at the business as well as the residence on West Broadway,” Lenoir City Police Chief Don White said. “That search resulted in finding what we do consider a significant indoor hydroponic as well as a potted grow operation (with) up to 85 mature marijuana plants.

“This is high-grade marijuana,” he added. “Each plant produces up to, or even above, a pound per plant at $3,000 or $4,000 a pound.”

Rebori owns an automotive repair shop downtown, which was allegedly the distribution point for the marijuana. The repair shop is across the street from a public park and playground, a “major area of concern,” White said.

White would not comment on whether Rebori has a criminal record.

“Like the mayor said, our job and focus is to eliminate any kind of drug trafficking — whether it be heroin or marijuana, we look at it all the same. It’s all illegal,” White said. “So we don’t want it here, and we want to keep our neighborhood safe and our businesses, and we want to rid Lenoir City of any criminal element, period. If neighbors see strange behavior such as, you know, traffic coming and going — that’s the No. 1, probably the No. 1 thing of anybody that’s distributing out of residences.”

If residents see suspicious activity or have information, they can call the task force at 865-376-2145 or LCPD at 865-986-2005.

“We would rather look into something rather than not,” White said. “Probably the No. 1 thing is just know your neighbors, and when you see that suspicious activity, make it known.”