54 indicted in ‘Operation Prison Empire’ drug investigation in SC

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PICKENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – A South Carolina grand jury issued several indictments in a drug trafficking case, known as “Prison Empire,” Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Friday.

Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark calling this a historic bust. He says it’s smaller meth busts happening right in Pickens County that launched this investigation.

“These people are attacking our communities and we’re breaking it up,” said Clark. “The enterprise pushed illegal drugs, assaults, fear throughout intimidation and everything else they use in what they do on a daily basis.”

According to a news release, the investigation alleges that the drug trafficking was run and facilitated by current and former inmates through the use of contraband cell phones in South Carolina prisons, as well as other on the outside of the facilities.

“Complex operations like this can be ongoing for months or even years,” said Clark. “And it’s grown from that one or two of little spots to almost state wide.”

It’s an issue Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling and State Grand Jury Chief Attorney Creighton Waters deal with regularly.

“Contraband cellphones are the most dangerous weapon in a prisoner’s hands,” said Stirling.

“It would frankly be impossible for all these inmates to run these scams and this drug trafficking and gang activity if they didn’t have those cell phones,” said Waters.

Officials said the drug being trafficked was mostly methamphetamine, but said there were also some people charged with trafficking cocaine and marijuana as well. This particular operation netting millions in illegal drugs.

“Trafficking of 500 kilograms of meth have been involved and seized in this. More kilos of heroin and cocaine coming off the streets,” said Clark.

“Additionally, there are a number of firearms and weapons charges associated with the alleged drug trafficking, as well as burglary, kidnapping, and related charges from an incident allegedly ordered from prison because of nonpayment of a drug debt,” according to the release.

Even though this is a small victory, law enforcement agents say more needs to be done. This includes cell phone jamming to ensure even if these criminals get cell phones into the prisons, they won’t be able to get a signal out.

“A large part of this network is controlled and operated by convicted inmates in our state prison,” said Clark.

“The only way prison inmates are able to keep committing crimes on the outside is by using contraband cell phones,” Attorney General Wilson said. “They coordinate with people on the outside to get drugs and smuggle them into prisons. This market for contraband inside our prisons has contributed to gang power, gang rivalries, and gang violence within our prisons, and also contributes to violence on the outside by those who are involved.”

Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections Bryan Stirling said an “illegal cell phone is the most dangerous weapon in our prisons today.”

“We are grateful to all of our law enforcement partners and the state grand jury for helping bring these cases forward and highlighting the serious issue of cell phones in prisons,” Stirling said.

According to the release, 194 charges were placed against 54 people during this operation. Those individuals were identified as:

Samantha Diane Chavez Aiken

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Person Convicted of Violent Offense: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
  • Possession of a Stolen Handgun: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
  • Failure to Stop for a Blue Light: 90 days-3 years or $500
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute a Schedule IV Controlled Substance: 0-3 years and/or $0-$6,000
  • Driving While License Suspended: 0-30 days and/or $300

Steve Dewyatt Aiken, Jr.

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 100-200 grams: 25 years and $50,000

Edward Gary Akridge (a/k/a “Eddie Boss”)

  • Conspiracy: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Burglary, First Degree: 15 years-life
  • Kidnapping (3 counts): 1-30 years
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
  • Assault and Battery, First Degree: 1-10 yearsb. 2019-GS-47-23 (Pickens County) (Superseding Indictment)
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000

Joey Durant Atkins

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000

Justin Kvalheim Babb

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 100-200 grams (2 counts): 25 years and $50,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years

Ryan Christopher Ballard

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime (2 counts): 5 years
  • Unlawful Possession of a Handgun by Person Convicted of a Crime of Violence: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
  • Unlawful Possession of a Handgun by Person Convicted of a Crime of Violence: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
  • Possession of a Stolen Handgun: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000

William Clinton Barkley

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

Joey Neal Bodie

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000

Steven Ray Boyd

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime (3 counts): 5 years

Jessica Addie Bradshaw

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Distribution of Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams (2 counts): 3-10 years and $25,000
  • Possession of Marijuana: 0-30 days or $100-$200

Matthew Jason Brown

  • Conspiracy: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Burglary, First Degree: 15 years-life
  • Kidnapping (3 counts): 1-30 years
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
  • Assault and Battery, First Degree: 1-10 years

Jennifer Nicole Burns ( STILL WANTED)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

Kurtis Russell Burns

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams (2 counts): 3-10 years and $25,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime (4 counts): 5 years
  • Driving While License Suspended: 0-30 days and/or $300
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams (4 counts): 7-25 years and $50,000
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance within Proximity of School (2 counts): 0-1 year and/or $0-$1,000
  • Distribution of Marijuana (2 counts): 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Possession of a Stolen Handgun (3 counts): 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000 

William David Burns

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Warren Brent Chastain (a/k/a “Yo Gotti”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000 

Jacob Austin Collins (STILL WANTED)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

Jesse Taylor Crooks (a/k/a “Roach”)

  • Trafficking Cocaine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000

Tina Dent

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base (Crack): 0-15 years and/or $25,000

Scott Allen Durham

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Distribution of Methamphetamine (3 counts): 0-15 years and/or $25,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000

Stacey M. Edgerly

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Kelli Denise Edwards

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years

Christina Marie Epps

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Kenneth Bryant Evans, II (a/k/a “Kuntry”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

McKayla Dawn Franks

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Garrick Houston Fuller (a/k/a “Gary Wayne”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000 

Barbara Ann Goodman

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Distribution of Methamphetamine (3 counts): 0-15 years and/or $25,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams (2 counts): 7-25 years and $50,000

Robert Anthony Gracely (a/k/a “Tony G”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Heather Michelle Hamilton (a/k/a “Yola”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Possession of Methamphetamine: 0-3 years and/or $0-$5,000

Sommer Leigh Johnson

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000

Casey Christian Kohler

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Kristin Nicole Lesley

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 100-200 grams: 25 years and $50,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000

Cassidy Shane Lewis

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Candies Brooke Locke

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

Jeffery Shane Mauldin

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Darrell Foster McCoy, Jr. (a/k/a “DJ”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Matthew David McCoy

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Christopher Robert Nix

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute a Schedule I-III Controlled Substance (Amphetamine): 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Possession of Marijuana: 0-30 days or $100-$200

Brandi Nicole O’Bryant (a/k/a “Brandi Smith”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
  • Possession of Methamphetamine: 0-3 years and/or $0-$5,000 

Semeca Dannyelle Oglesby

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Person Convicted of Violent Offense: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
  • Receiving Stolen Goods (Value Less Than $2,000): 0-30 days and/or $0-$1,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000
  • Failure to Stop for a Blue Light: 90 days-3 years or $500
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Person Convicted of Violent Offense: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
  • Resisting Arrest with a Deadly Weapon: 6 months-10 years

William Russell Oliver, II (a/k/a “Lil Pimpin”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Possession of Methamphetamine: 0-3 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Possession of a Stolen Handgun (2 counts): 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by Person Convicted of Violent Offense: 0-5 years and/or $0-$2,000
  • Possession of Contraband in County Jail: 1-10 years and/or $1,000-$10,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams: 7-25 years and $50,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
  • Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance: 0-2 years and/or $0-$5,000 

Scott Damien Pope

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000

Jennifer Marie Pruitt

  • Kidnapping: 0-30 years
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000

Ratravious Untwain Quattlebaum

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine: 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000 

Jonathan Richard Rackley (a/k/a “Diesel”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000

Charles Michael Ray (a/k/a “Chuck Ray”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Possession of Methamphetamine: 0-3 years and/or $0-$5,000 

Nicanor Perez Rodriguez (a/k/a “Nico”)

  • Conspiracy: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Burglary, First Degree: 15 years-life
  • Kidnapping (3 counts): 1-30 years
  • Trafficking Cocaine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Antonio Marcus Smith

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Jamal Seantea Smith (a/k/a “Rico”)

  • Trafficking Cocaine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000

Bryan Michael Stegall

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000

Anthony Jevea Turner (a/k/a “Ant) (a/k/a “Ant G”)

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Jodie Crenshaw Turner

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000

Michael Wayne Walker, Jr.

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 200-400 grams: 25 years and $100,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000

Wade Douglas Watkins

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more: 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 grams: 3-10 years and $25,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime: 5 years
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

Dustin Allen Wilson

  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (2 counts): 25-30 years and $200,000
  • Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 grams (3 counts): 7-25 years and $50,000
  • Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime (2 counts): 5 years
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana: 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine: 0-15 years and/or $25,000
  • Possession of Marijuana: 0-30 days or $100-$200

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Jennifer Nicole Burns and Jacob Austin Collins is asked to call the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at 23-CRIME or 1-888-CRIMESC.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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