A Walker County, Ga., grand jury indicted six people, including a family, on racketeering charges this week, accusing them of being part of a larger drug trafficking ring.
Fifteen more people also were indicted on Tuesday on lesser charges for their suspected involvement in the ring. They were charged with numerous counts of attempting to purchase marijuana and illegal use of a communication facility, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin in a news release.
So far, 12 of the 21 people have been arrested, police said Wednesday afternoon.
Police believe Warren Smith, Barbara Smith, Seth Smith, Randall Ferguson, Ronald Hise and Barry Franklin were part of a drug trafficking ring that sold marijuana - one of the largest rings in the area, Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force Commander Patrick Doyle said.
All six were indicted on violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, authorities said.
The Smiths moved into the area about 10 years ago and were living in the Menlo area in the southern end of Walker County, Doyle said. Federal, state and local police - 12 law enforcement agencies in North Georgia - have been investigating their alleged operation, he said.
In March, investigators seized more than $600,000 in cash and property to build their case against the group. Police seized real estate, cars, boats, guns and other heavy equipment from the property in Menlo, which they believed were all purchased with money from drug deals, Doyle said.
In April, authorities filed a petition for forfeiture to seize the suspects' property in Walker and Gordon counties, Franklin said. Estimated assets for the Smiths, Hise and suspect William Sisson now have reached about $1.1 million, he said.