Skip to main content
Press Release

West Columbia Gang Member Pleads to Federal Drug Charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — Darius Antonio Pugh, 36, of West Columbia, pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition and one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a quantity of cocaine base (commonly known as crack cocaine), and a quantity of cocaine.

Evidence presented to the court showed that on the evening of August 14, 2020, a Charleston County deputy conducted a traffic stop of a speeding car. Pugh, the driver, was in the car with a friend. As the deputy was speaking with Pugh, he saw loose “shake” (marijuana) inside the car, which gave the deputy probable cause to search the car. Deputies recovered a small baggie of cocaine and a loaded handgun. Pugh, who was out on a state bond from Lexington County for a shooting, was arrested on new state charges and thereafter made another state bond.

While out on state bond, Pugh, a gang member, was involved in a high speed chase with Richland County deputies. Evidence presented to the court showed that on the evening of April 9, 2022, Richland County deputies responded to a home invasion in progress in northeast Columbia. Enroute, deputies received information that the suspect fled in an older model Expedition. While responding to the call, a deputy encountered an older model Expedition fitting the general description in the area. The deputy attempted to make a traffic stop of the Expedition for having improper vehicle tags.

As the deputy turned on his blue lights and siren, the Expedition fled onto 1-77 with speeds in excess of 100mph. The chase continued onto 277 South and came to a stop within the Colony apartment complex, after the Expedition struck a parked car as it attempted to make a turn at a high rate of speed. Pugh, the driver and sole occupant of the Expedition, exited the SUV and was stopped by the deputy after a short foot chase. Inside a bag that Pugh had, deputies found a loaded handgun with an extended magazine and clear bags of methamphetamine, cocaine, and crack cocaine. A search of Pugh’s Expedition revealed another loaded handgun, along with a jar of marijuana and a digital scale. Both handguns were determined to have been previously stolen in Charlotte. It was determined that Pugh was not the suspect involved in the home invasion and that his Expedition was not the Expedition the home invasion victim said left the scene.

Federal law prohibits Pugh from possessing firearms and ammunition based on prior state convictions that include possession of cocaine, possession of other controlled substance, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (two separate convictions), possession of stolen motor vehicle, distribution of heroin, distribution of fentanyl, failure to stop for blue light and siren, and discharging firearms into a dwelling. 

Pugh faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 on the firearm charges and a mandatory minimum of 10 years with a maximum of life and a fine of $8,000,000 on the drug charge. After service of the term of imprisonment, Pugh will also face a term of supervised release of at least 8 years.  United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis accepted the guilty plea and will sentence him after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the United States Probation Office.

This case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mt. Pleasant Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey D. Haynes is prosecuting the case.



Brook Andrews, First Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office,, (803) 929-3000

Updated March 30, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods