Local motel site of interstate drug trafficking; kidnap, assault part of scenario

Published 6:30 pm Friday, June 25, 2021

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A Tazewell motel was the site last year of the kidnapping and assault of two people held at gunpoint in retaliation to recover money and drugs following an attempted drug deal.

Thomas Hamblin, 65, was the ringleader who enticed others to help him accrue kilogram quantities of cocaine for sell to those living in his home county of Perry, KY.

Hamblin enticed Luke Holbrook and Michael Rayburn in the kidnapping plot, providing Holbrook with a firearm and ammunition. The victims were held at gunpoint, tied up with duct tape, assaulted with a baseball bat and interrogated during the incident, according to a news release.

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Portions of the incident were reportedly recorded via cell phone later recovered at the scene of the crime. The phone proved that Hamblin was contacted during the assault.

Evidence at trial revealed that Hamblin had been working with Bobby Sizemore, Robert Keith Caudill and Doyle Back, among others to acquire the kilograms of cocaine.

Hamblin was indicted in July of last year following a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Hazard and Tazewell Police departments, the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office, the Kentucky State Police and Operation UNITE.

Hamblin was convicted in a London, KY federal court, charged with one count each of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of that conspiracy, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit a kidnapping.

The jury took about four hours to convict Hamblin following a five-day trial.

All the codefendants in this case have pled guilty. Holbrook and Rayburn pled to kidnapping. Rayburn has been sentenced to 135 months in prison. Holbrook has not yet been sentenced.

Sizemore, Caudill and Back pled guilty to drug charges and are also waiting on sentencing.

Hamblin is expected to appear for sentencing on Oct. 26 in federal court in London, KY. He faces 10 years to life in prison. However, the court must consider U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and applicable federal sentencing statutes prior to imposing a sentence.

This case was prosecuted as part of the Dept. of Justice “Project Safe Neighborhoods” program, a nationwide crime reduction strategy aimed at decreasing violent crime in communities.