Myrtle Beach Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison for Selling "Speedball" That Caused Overdose Death
Florence, South Carolina --- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that James Latron Sumter, a/k/a “T”, age 35, of Myrtle Beach, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to distribute a quantity of cocaine and heroin, the use of which resulted in serious bodily injury or death. Chief United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell of Florence accepted Sumter’s plea and imposed the sentence.
“The United States Attorney’s Office is locking arms with our state and local partners in the fight to end the opioid epidemic in our state,” said U.S. Attorney Lydon. “Locally, we are assisting our partners in Myrtle Beach and Horry County by working hand-in-hand with their narcotics and homicide detectives to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who deal these deadly drugs. Together, we are holding accountable the men and women introducing this poison into the Grand Strand and across South Carolina.”
At the change of plea and sentencing hearings, Assistant United States Attorney Everett McMillian presented evidence that reflects Sumter was contacted on December 29, 2017, by co-conspirator Charles Rayford Hunt, Jr., who was seeking to purchase what is commonly called a “speedball”—a potent combination of cocaine and heroin—for $100 for a female acquaintance of Hunt’s. Hunt met the female while working as an Uber driver and had a short-lived romantic relationship with her for two days prior to this incident. As reflected in text messages between Hunt and Sumter and statements from witnesses, Hunt drove the female victim to an apartment where Sumter provided the drugs sometime after 9:00 pm. Hunt then drove the victim to his apartment where she snorted the drugs and immediately thereafter showed signs of an overdose. Upon seeing her reaction, Hunt contacted Sumter and returned to pick him up. Not wanting to take the overdosing victim home to her father with whom she lived, Hunt and Sumter drove around and eventually stopped at Magoo’s Sports & Spirits to play pool sometime after midnight—leaving the overdosing victim passed out in the back seat of the car. After playing pool, Hunt took Sumter back to the apartment complex and drove around the Myrtle Beach area with the victim still passed out in the back seat of his car. Eventually, Hunt realized the victim had quit breathing at which time he “panicked” and dumped her body in a wooded area just across the North Carolina border during the early morning hours of December 30. Hunt then drove back to Myrtle Beach, throwing the victim’s cell phone into the intercostal waterway on the way back. He took the victim’s purse and belongings to another conspirator, Jose Anthony Ortiz, Jr., who destroyed many of the victim’s personal items in a burn pit at Hunt’s request.
On December 31, Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration learned of the incident. Working together, the FBI and DEA quickly collaborated with detectives from the Horry County Police Department and Columbus County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina to unravel the scheme. Hunt was located, promptly confessed his role in the event, and led officials to the victim’s body. An autopsy and toxicology report later confirmed the victim died as a result of a heroin and cocaine overdose. Further investigation uncovered that Sumter had conspired with several other individuals in the Myrtle Beach area during 2017 to distribute cocaine and heroin on other occasions. The evidence reflects that another overdose in January 2017 may also be attributable to heroin Sumter provided. This second victim was revived by first responders using Narcan, and he has since reportedly recovered from his addiction.
Hunt and Ortiz were prosecuted for their roles in covering up the overdose. Both men pleaded guilty and are currently serving sentences in federal prison. Sumter has been in custody since he was arrested on this charge in August 2018.
This case is the result of a concentrated effort to disrupt and dismantle the flow of deadly opioids into the Myrtle Beach area. By partnering with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, the United States Attorney’s Office will continue to aggressively prosecute those who deal in illegal narcotics, especially those individuals who distribute opioids that cause serious bodily injury or death to others.