Charleston, South Carolina --- Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced today that a joint team of more than 200 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers arrested nine individuals who have been charged in federal court for their roles in an alleged drug trafficking conspiracy that operated in the Charleston area as well for firearms charges. Four additional defendants are not in custody at this time.
The arrests made in “Operation Cash Out” follow a months-long joint investigation between the FBI, ATF, HSI, City of Charleston Police Department, the North Charleston Police Department, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, SLED, Summerville Police Department, Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, Mount Pleasant Police Department, Charleston County Aviation Authority Police Department, and the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
The arrests also follow a 46-count indictment being returned by a Federal Grand Jury targeting alleged members of the violent street gang West Cash, in the case of United States v. Antwan Xavier Grant et al.
“Drug gangs are a primary reason for the violent crime surge not only in South Carolina but also across the nation,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “Violent gang activity will never be tolerated in South Carolina. The United States Attorney’s Office and our local, state, and federal partners will not stop in our efforts to stop major drug traffickers, who use guns and violence to advance their activities. On behalf of our office, I thank our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for their constant bravery in making the arrests today and for their unwavering partnership in making our communities safer.”
The indictment alleges that, starting in September 2016 to the present, six of the thirteen defendants conspired to possess and distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana. For their respective drug charges, the defendants could face up to 40 years in federal prison.
Additionally, four of the defendants have been charged with conspiring to make false statements to licensed firearms dealers in order to purchase firearms, as well as 13 individual charges of lying to licensed firearms dealers in order to purchase firearms, including an AR 15 pistol, FN 5.7 pistols, and a Glock 29.
The indictment alleges that these defendants lied to local licensed dealers, including Palmetto State Armory, ATP Gun Shop, Field & Stream, and Sportsman’s Warehouse, by attesting that they were the true purchaser of a firearm, when it is alleged that they were not. Each of the firearm-related counts carry up to 10 years in federal prison.
The indictment also charges five of the defendants with using telephones to facilitate their drug trafficking conspiracy, counts that each carry up to 4 years in federal prison.
Multiple charges for felon in possession, possession of firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and possession with intent to distribute drugs are also included in the indictment. These charges carry up to between 5 and 40 years in federal prison.
The nine defendants in custody are:
Assistant United States Attorney Whit Sowards is prosecuting the case.
Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart stated that all charges against these defendants are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Michael Mule' (843) 327-0882