A year-and-a-half ago, several Monroe County, TN police departments set up an elaborate drug sting to take down what the police perceived to be known drug dealers in the area. The message they wanted to send, according to Sherriff Tommy Jones II was, “If you are involved in any type of drug activity…you will find yourself in prison. This will not be tolerated.”
According to the Advocate and Democrat News’ official story of the sting operation, “the streets of Monroe County and its municipalities saw a lot of drugs removed last week as an operation that began in February culminated with 72 indictments being handed down and arrests made from one end of the county to another.”
One of those indicted was Cameron McKenzie Rake of Maryville, TN. Rake says he was blindsided by the arrest, and he is telling quite a different story than the one the police are sharing with the media. Rake says he was no drug dealer at all, just a guy looking to hook up with a pretty woman he met online. “I was on a dating website called MeetMe,” an app on his smartphone he explains he used to meet new friends.
There was a girl on there, “that talked to me first,” he said intimating she had an interest in him. The conversation on Meet Me quickly turned to drugs. Rake said she “asked me to come sell her pills” something he found strange because he said she didn’t even know him. Rake said her profile picture suggested she was into drugs. He described her profile to the Free Thought Project as having “posted wanting and asking for pills” and said she “made assumptions to me that we would be able to hook up”.
“I asked her multiple times if she was a cop or associated with any law enforcement agency and she kept saying ‘no,’” he said, regretting the day he ever connected with her online. “My dumb ass believed her,” Rake said, lamenting the whole ordeal which eventually led to his arrest.
“She even said she’d pay me for whatever I found and I kept telling her I didn’t know where anything was but that I would look around,” he said indicating he wasn’t a drug dealer at all, just a guy looking to hook up with a girl he met online.
Rake then described what happened next. “I found some morphine pills and took them to her and she met up with me and came up to my car window and asked for the pills I showed her then she tossed the money in my lap and started to walk off,” he said, not knowing the woman was an undercover police officer.
“I asked, ‘I thought we were going to hang out?’. And she said, ‘Oh, I’m busy. I gotta go!’” Rake then said she got into her truck and drove off. He stated he only brought her three pills. He described what happened next. “About a mile-and-a-half later, I got pulled over,” he said adding the cops, “got me out of my car put me in handcuffs.”
Rake explained that he asked for a lawyer before and after being read his Miranda rights. “I asked multiple times for my lawyer and wasn’t given one.” He also said the cops were selectively recording his statements with their body cameras. “They had a body cam and turned it on and off at crucial moments when I said important things and made it look like they had done nothing wrong!”
It takes a truly callous and depraved person to prey upon the loneliness of an individual in order to dupe them into finding them drugs just to bust them. Shameful.
Rake feels entrapped by the police actions of that fateful night. He said he was only looking for a date. He doesn’t think it is right for the police to pretend to be a pretty girl in order to tempt teenagers into committing illegal activities. Making matters worse for Rake, he had a long gun in his trunk.
“They searched my car and found my shotgun in the trunk under about 10 pounds of dirty laundry,” he said, admitting he did have a concealed firearm in his possession. He admits his current lawyer isn’t much help. “My lawyer is really shitty and doesn’t know what the hell he is doing,” admitting that the best his lawyer has been able to do for him is arrange a plea deal for 10 years in prison for “possession, sale and delivery of a schedule 2 narcotic” and “possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony”.
The now 21-year-old, who was 19 at the time of his arrest, is fearing the worst. “So I’m going [to go to prison] for about 20 years on January 20th,” Rake told The Free Thought Project.
Rake was indicted on charges of possession of Morphine and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He’s currently looking for a capable attorney, “I need someone who will be able to reduce the charges and fight this for me. This was ridiculous. I feel like I was basically raped by the police department and set up for failure from the beginning since this occurred.” He says he wants to go to trial before a jury and fight the entrapment of which he feels to be the victim.
As The Free Thought Project has faithfully reported, the War on Drugs catches all types in its dragnet. Often times, young men like Rake get caught up in the dragnet with bigger fish. But Rake, a young man now facing the loss of decades of his life, isn’t blind. He sees that the police were not working for his good when they pretended to be a hot looking female teenager looking to hook up online.
Rake is not alone either. Dozens of other men, just like him, were taken advantage of by police pretending to be attractive females looking for dates. Many of these folks had nothing to do with drugs and ONLY sought them out to be less lonely.
Rake explains that he wants justice but doesn’t believe the three pills he took the young girl that night equates to 20 years of his life. He says he got the pills from an aunt of a friend of his. He says he was 15 when he started going to the dating site to “meet friends.” He says he’s met “more than 100 people” in and around Knoxville using the MeetMe app on his phone.
“I’m not even remotely a drug dealer. I haven’t had anything to do with drugs in my life. I’ve never touched drugs in my life. I’ve seen the devastating effect drugs have had on my life and my friends’ lives…This was the first time I’ve ever messed with it and it was basically to get a girls attention.” Rake says he doesn’t even smoke marijuana but admits to smoking cigarettes.
The young man says the 12-gauge shotgun found in his trunk was there because he and his best friend go hunting on his friend’s 500 acres. “He lives on the land and we just hunt for coyotes that go after his chickens. We also hunt for deer and squirrel,” he said.
Rake attended and graduated William Blount High School in Maryville, TN, and is now attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but hasn’t started back this semester because he’s unsure if he’s going to go back to college or off to prison.
Rake says he has never been arrested prior to crossing paths with the Vonore Police Department. He admits that he’d had some trouble with the law in the past, but they were just minor traffic violations, nothing criminal. He was never charged with any other crime and says he doesn’t know why he cannot get any leniency from the courts. Rake grew up in a church. His father was a pastor of a Lutheran Church for many years in Maryville. He says his dad was very upset with the fact that the police department lured him into providing pills to a stranger he met online.
“Being lonely kinda screws with your head sometimes,” Rake said regretting the whole ordeal.
Rake worries whether speaking out will help or hurt his chances at a reduced sentence. But he takes comfort in telling his story in the hopes that some other hapless teenager out there doesn’t get suckered into a sting operation like he did.
As The Free Thought Project has reported on numerous occasions, police officers have the discretion on whether or not to file charges against someone. But in a major sting operation wherein multiple police departments are involved, the lone police officer who would be willing to go out on a limb for a guy like Rake simply won’t step forward. The end result is the feeding of the Prison Industrial Complex machine with fresh meat to sustain its inmate population and further the highly lucrative prison industry.
Cameron has since set up a fund to help with his legal fees. Please help if you can.