Brooklyn Man, Who Was Fugitive for 8 Years, Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison For His Role in Heroin Conspiracy
MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA — Less than twenty months after 30 Horry County and Myrtle Beach-area drug traffickers were indicted based on a federal wiretap investigation into narcotics and violence, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina announced today that all 30 have pleaded guilty and been sentenced in federal court.
Evidence presented in court filings reflects that the Cedar Branch drug trafficking organization was an interstate conspiracy that was involved in the distribution of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and firearms. The organization was based in the Cedar Branch area of Horry County, and had ties across the state line into North Carolina. Its members were supplied with controlled substances from multiple interstate sources of supply, including one with direct ties to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) from Jalisco, Mexico. This organization was identified by local law enforcement as a priority target in connection with violent crime and overdoses in the area. The defendants in these cases were all participants in this drug conspiracy.
Each of the defendants pleaded guilty to one of two indictments that collectively contained 72 counts of violations of federal law ranging from drug conspiracy and firearms violations to using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking. Each has now also been sentenced, with several of the organization’s leaders and suppliers receiving sentences of ten years or more in federal prison, as follows:
“This operation dismantled a violent criminal enterprise, put its members behind bars, and made communities in South Carolina safer,” said U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis. “This case illustrates the results that are possible when federal, state, and local agencies work together toward a common goal.”
The investigation was a multi-year, collaborative effort by several agencies including the Horry County Police Department, Horry County Sheriff’s Office, 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit, Myrtle Beach Police Department, Conway Police Department, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, United States Marshals Service, United States Postal Inspection Service and the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. The wiretap investigation was quarterbacked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in concert with the other agencies, who offered comments on the successful operation:
FBI Special Agent in Charge Susan Ferensic
“This latest sentencing signifies the end of this drug organization. I want to thank our law enforcement partners who all played a vital role in bringing this case to a successful closure. Let this case serve as an example to those introducing drugs in Horry County that this criminal activity will not be tolerated.”
Loris Police Department Chief Gary Buley
“With our continued support we continue to battle the drugs and make a big difference in our community. Thank you for all the hard work and dedication by all to make this difference in our communities.”
Myrtle Beach Police Department Chief Amy Prock
“As we said before, Myrtle Beach is not a safe haven for criminals. The long list of agencies who worked together for this case is a testament to the strength of our partnerships and our commitment to keeping our community safe.”
15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, Drug Enforcement Unit Commander Dean Bishop
“This demonstrates how the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit, along with our partners, will serve our communities by focusing on violent drug traffickers.”
Coastal Carolina University Police Department Chief David Roper
“Due to the complex nature of large-scale drug operations, it is imperative that law enforcement agencies work together to combat such organizations. Each agency brings unique assets to the table that enhances their ability for success. These operations require technology, experience, and boots on the ground in order to gather enough information to arrest and successfully prosecute participants in the drug trade. These types of successful operations allow us to maintain a safe community. They also make the criminal aware that law enforcement will always pursue illegal operations that effect the safety of our citizens. Coastal Carolina University Department of Public Safety is pleased to have been involved with this important investigation.”
Horry County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Phillip Thompson
“We are grateful for the partnerships we share with federal law enforcement, state and local agencies in the combined efforts to fight the surge of drugs in our communities. Operation Broken Branch was a much-needed enforcement operation in a rural area of Horry County plagued by illegal narcotics sales.”
This operation is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. The case was prosecuted by OCDETF Lead Task Force Attorney Everett McMillian, along with Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Hixson, who also serves as Deputy Solicitor for 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
Additional information can be found on the docket of the United States District Court, Criminal Case Numbers 4:20-CR-189 and 4:20-CR-490. The initial press releases about this matter is available here.
Derek Shoemake (843) 327-0882