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Press Release

West Columbia Gang Member Sentenced to Over 12 Years for Federal Drug and Firearm Charges

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

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — Darius Antonio Pugh, age 36, of West Columbia, was sentenced to 12 ½ years (151 months) in federal prison after earlier pleading guilty to two counts of 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 vehicle. Pugh, the driver, was in the vehicle with a female friend. As the deputy was speaking with Pugh, he saw loose “shake” (marijuana) inside the vehicle, which gave the deputy probable cause to search the vehicle. Inside the vehicle, deputies recovered a small baggie of cocaine and a loaded 9mm 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.

Thereafter, while out on state bond for the Charleston incident and state supervised release for discharging a firearm into a dwelling charges, 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 based upon improper vehicle tags. As the deputy turned on his blue lights and siren, the Expedition fled from Killian Road onto 1-77 with speeds in excess of 100mph. The chase continued for some time and ultimately stopped within the Colony apartment complex, after the Expedition struck a parked vehicle as it attempted to make a turn at a high rate of speed. Pugh ran from the vehicle and was apprehended by deputies. Inside a bag that Pugh had, deputies found a loaded 9mm handgun with an extended magazine and clear bags of methamphetamine, cocaine, and crack cocaine. A search of Pugh’s Expedition uncovered another loaded 9mm handgun, along with a jar of marijuana and a digital scale. Both handguns were reported 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.

Pugh is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition based upon his prior state convictions, which 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 dwelling. 

United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced Pugh to 151 months imprisonment, which will be followed by eight years of federal supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

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 Department, and the Mt. Pleasant Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey D. Haynes prosecuted the case.



Veronica Hill, Public Affairs Specialist,, (803) 929-3000

Updated October 11, 2023

Project Safe Neighborhoods