Fewer drugs and fewer drug dealers are on now on the streets in the Myrtle Beach, Florence and Charleston areas, officials say.
A two-year investigation targeting a gang, allegedly involved in drug trafficking, weapons and more, yielded at least 13 arrests as multiple federal, state and local agencies joined forces in the crackdown. Those arrested face federal charges for drug and firearm violations, officials said.
Authorities banded together at a news conference Thursday morning in at the M. L. Brown Public Safety Building in Conway to reveal the product of their lengthy, joint investigation.
Afterward, Sheriff Phillip Thompson of the Horry County Sheriff’s Office and Chief Joseph Hill with the Horry County Police Department both said that the efforts to rid the county of drugs and gangs would continue as they build on the recent success.
“If you’re dealing drugs or committing crime in Horry County or any of the jurisdictions up and down the Strand, we’re coming after you, and we’re not stopping,” Hill said after the conference.
Ripples will be felt in the community after the splash was made in the drug trade.
“Today there is a significant impact to the drug distribution organization here in the Low Country,” said Beth Drake, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. She said four more people soon would be arrested.
The investigation also is a step in dealing with the heroin epidemic, some local officials said.
“You know the epidemic that we have at this particular time, so our ultimate goal is to do everything that law enforcement can do,” Thompson said following the conference. “Everything that we can do to make the cases, get the drugs off the street … .”
Officials at the news conference said they weren’t at liberty to discuss what prompted the investigation, but did say the investigation targeted members of the “Billie East Side Bloods,” which is a part of the United Blood Nation, along with others who allegedly agreed to deal heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and marijuana.
Drake said at least 13 people were arrested and were arraigned Wednesday stemming from the multiple-agency operation that began in 2014.
The FBI, DEA, Horry County Sheriff’s Office, Horry County Police Department, Myrtle Beach police, Coastal Carolina University police, North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety, 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit and the Georgetown police all worked together on the investigation.
“This joint operation involving our federal, state and local law-enforcement partners signals our commitment to and emphasis on targeting significant criminal organizations operating in the Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Florence areas of South Carolina,” Drake said in a news release.
Andy Moorman, assistant U.S. attorney, spoke at the conference Thursday morning and said that while the 13 arrested on warrants stemming from a 35-count indictment had been made, only portions of the indictment had been unsealed, so some information on the case and the gang investigated couldn’t be discussed.
Moorman said firearms were being used to advance the gang. He said the group used guns to protect drugs they intended to sell and in guarding their turf.
“Members of the Billies use firearms to generate revenue, so they can buy more drugs,” he said.
Those arrested will appear at a 2:30 p.m. hearing Monday at the federal courthouse in Florence, officials said.
Hill said after the conference that police will work to ensure the voids created in the investigation don’t get filled by others.
After the conference, Thompson said it was possible more arrests could follow and that local law enforcement, state and federal officials would keep working together. He said it was too early to get into the specifics of the gang because information was still being gathered.
He said the arrests will help toward fighting the heroin epidemic that impacts Horry County.
“We’ve got a serious problem, not only in Horry County,” Thompson said. “It’s everywhere, but we’re concerned obviously, right here in Horry County, so our goal is to keep on working, striving, working hard, working together.”
Chief Hill said the arrests were part of the police’s “multi-pronged approach” to stamping out drugs and crime in the community which entails, enforcement, intervention and rehabilitation.
“If we can stop the illegal flow of drugs into the community, we have less people that will be dependent on them,” he said.
He called community members to be helpful eyes and ears and contact police if they see suspicious activity.
According to documents those listed in the indictment were: Barbara Landy, a.k.a. “E-5”a.k.a “Fizzy”, Joshua Lee Randall, a.k.a. “Rude Boy”, Frank William Truitt, a.k.a. “Fatz”, Adrian Jerell Lane, a.k.a. “Ace”, Sydney Devin McDougall, Jerrick Larod Thomas, a.k.a. “Juice”, Chelsey Nicole Inman, Derek Bellamy a.k.a. “Bloody D,” Timothy Singletary, Alexis Kirt, Matthew DeWitt, Stacy Cambas, and Andrew Perry. The indictment states that Landy, Randall, Truitt, Lane, Bellamy and Singletary were members of the Billie gang.