Authorities said Friday the investigation into a methamphetamine conspiracy that resulted in 13 arrests earlier this week began with an Old Fort woman.

Allison Michelle Smith, 51, of 76 Souther Road in Old Fort, is charged with one count each of conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and continuing a criminal enterprise. She is in the McDowell County Jail under a $5 million bond.

McDowell County Sheriff’s Office detectives received information about possible drug activity involving Smith and her residence. Following an extensive investigation, officers conducted multiple raids in McDowell and Rutherford counties Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Overall, they seized 24 pounds of methamphetamine, 43 firearms and an undetermined amount of cash.

Authorities arrested 12 other suspects from different counties in North Carolina and two from South Carolina that authorities say aided Smith in continuing a criminal enterprise to traffic in approximately 400 grams of methamphetamine.

Warrants state “Allison Michelle Smith occupied a position of organizer, supervisory position and other management position.” The documents add that the other suspects obtained “substantial income and resources” from Smith.

According to N.C. Department of Public Safety records, Smith has a criminal record stretching back to 1995 and over seven years of total incarceration time, with charges that include possession of a schedule II controlled substance, maintaining a vehicle or dwelling place for a controlled substance and trafficking methamphetamine.

Lt. Chris Taylor, who heads the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office narcotics unit, called Smith the “ring leader” in McDowell and Rutherford counties and added that there more leaders elsewhere, including other countries.

Authorities determined that the drugs were being brought to McDowell and Rutherford from the Atlanta area for distribution locally.

"The nature of a drug investigation this complex is to dismantle and disrupt the drug dealers and will have a local impact reducing the drug flow in our communities,” said Rutherford County Sheriff Chris Francis following this week’s bust.

The 24 pounds of meth have an estimated street value of $1.3 million.

Taylor called the bust one of the biggest in county history, comparable to the roundup of 20 people beginning in April that are charged in a conspiracy involving 20 pounds of meth and half a pound of marijuana.

Additional arrests are forthcoming in this case.