COWPENS, S.C. (WSPA) – The families living on Wagon Wheel Road in Cowpens consider themselves a tight knit community. But in recent years, they said their neighborhood has completely changed. And at the root of the problem, they said, is drugs.
“We live on a street where 13 families live and all our kids grew up running the street, skateboarding and biking,” said BeLinda Thompson, who lives in the area. “Our grandkids can’t even walk down the driveway now.”
The Sheriff’s Office said they’re aware of the problem. Within the past two years, they said they have charged several kilo-level drug dealers that supply the Cowpens and Spartanburg areas. All of these dealers live or deal within a three-mile radius of Wagon Wheel Rd.
The following people have been charged:
Shonda Finch – Charged Trafficking Meth 3/2023 along with other offenses. Her 7 charges are all pending a disposition in court.
Angela Childers – Charged Trafficking Meth 2/2023 along with other offenses. She violated the home detention condition of her bond in June,was reincarcerated, and her 5 charges are all pending a disposition in court.
Shandon Hammett – Charged Trafficking Meth 6/2023. He is currently on home detention, and his charge is pending a disposition in court.
Ricky Gay – Charged Trafficking Meth 3/2022. Gay is still incarcerated, and his charge is pending a court disposition.
David Rudicill – Charged Trafficking Meth 5/2023 along with other offenses. He remains incarcerated, and his 9 charges are pending a court disposition.
Steven Quinn – Charged Trafficking Meth 5/2023 along with numerous other offenses. He is on home detention, and his 15 charges are pending a court disposition.
The Sheriff’s Office said citizen complaints were key to those arrests.
“We can’t be all places at all times, we need folks to be our eyes and ears there,” said Lieutenant Kevin Bobo, public information officer with Spartanburg Co. Sheriff’s Office. “Narcotics investigations take time, it’s rare you’re going to catch someone hand to hand.”
Despite the efforts the Sheriff’s Office said they have carried out in this area, residents claim it is still going on, and they are still looking for more to be done. They’ve reached out to local and state law enforcement, as well as the governor.
But they said they have not received help, which is why they support Thompson, who organized the purchase of this billboard.
“She’s getting the attention now that she should have got long ago, and it shouldn’t take a billboard,” said Mike Stacy, who lives in the area.
Some who pitched in to purchase the billboard did it for personal reasons, like Juanita Rodgers, who lost her granddaughter in Spartanburg County to a fentanyl overdose. She said her granddaughter lived in the area, and was not a drug addict. But she believes the increase in drugs around schools in Spartanburg County is a problem.
“We’re not going to go out and try to tear up all these compounds, that’s not our job,” said Rodgers. “But it is the job of those who are supposed to be serving to take us seriously, and while this may have ruffled some feathers…good.”
Bobo said the sheriff’s office pulled up every call they’ve received in reference to Wagon Wheel Road. He said only 3 in the last 15 years were drug complaints. He said the sheriff’s office responded to each report, and said they make more arrests when they get more citizen input.
“The last several round-ups that we have done are problem areas that have been identified, and are a direct result of citizen complaints,” said Bobo. “If the citizens are not letting us know what’s going on, as evidence of this statistic, then that’s a problem.”
Neighbors on Wagon Wheel Road said they are ready to reclaim their street, and the sheriff’s office said they’re ready to help.