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Local News for Wednesday, March 31st

Here is your Cleveland, Tenn. | Bradley County, Tenn. news on mymix1041.com, sponsored by Toyota of Cleveland:

From WRCB Channel 3…

Dozens of people are facing federal charges in a violent, years-long drug ring that an inmate orchestrated from inside a Tennessee state prison using smuggled cellphones, a federal prosecutor announced Tuesday.

According to a news release from acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart in Nashville, a federal indictment unsealed Friday charged 27 people with a host of charges related to a large-scale conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine that has been occurring since as early as 2018. Eight others were charged in separate indictments last week and two others had been previously charged.

The prosecutor said 29-year-old inmate Humberto Morales of Columbia, Tennessee, orchestrated the conspiracy alleged in the investigation, which also resulted in charges of kidnapping, money laundering, threats by electronic communication, and firearms violations. A federal complaint filed in July 2020 alleges Morales was running a “large-scale drug trafficking conspiracy” from a prison in Wayne County, Tennessee.

Morales is now housed at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution on 2014 aggravated robbery and burglary offenses, according to state records.

The Tennessee Department of Correction, which sought out help from federal authorities over concerns about criminal activity behind bars, said the charges further illustrate the need for federal officials to act on legislation to let state prison officials jam the signals of cellphones smuggled to inmates within their walls.

Also from WRCB Channel 3…

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says he has received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Asked by a reporter Monday, the Republican said he had the initial Pfizer shot Saturday and will get the second dose in a few weeks.

He didn’t surround the inoculation with any fanfare, as he did when he tweeted out a photo of his flu shot last November.

Lee, who is 61, has said he was waiting his turn for the COVID-19 vaccine. All but a handful of Tennessee counties have now begun opening up vaccinations to anyone 16 or older.

From NewsChannel 9…

Volkswagen of America issued false statements this week saying it would change its brand name to “Voltswagen,” to stress its commitment to electric vehicles, only to reverse course Tuesday and admit that the supposed name change was a joke.

Mark Gillies, a company spokesman, confirmed Tuesday that the statement had been a pre-April Fool’s Day joke after having insisted Monday that the release was legitimate and the name change accurate. The company’s false statement was distributed again Tuesday, saying the brand-name change reflected a shift to more battery-electric vehicles.

Volkswagen’s intentionally fake news release, highly unusual for a major public company, coincides with its efforts to repair its image as it tries to recover from a 2015 scandal in which it cheated on government emissions tests and allowed diesel-powered vehicles to illegally pollute the air.

The fake release could land Volkswagen in trouble with U.S. securities regulators because its stock price rose nearly 5% on Tuesday, the day the bogus statement was officially issued.