Crime

A North Myrtle Beach resort was the base for a $1.5 million cocaine operation, feds say

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A North Myrtle Beach resort was the base for a multimillion dollar cocaine operation, according to federal documents.

Abraham Arturo Rodríguez, 30, and Ruben Rodríguez, 23, both from Brownsville, Texas, were convicted this week of conspiring to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine from their “base of operations” in North Myrtle Beach in 2017, U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon said in a release Friday.

The men rented a room at an “upscale, beachfront resort” in North Myrtle Beach. According to a motion to suppress the search evidence, the men were staying in Unit 905 at Atlantic Breeze Ocean Resort — now Bahama Sands Luxury Condominiums. The room was booked from Oct. 11, 2017, to Nov. 22, 2017, the motion says.

The two men coordinated the delivery of more than 50 kilograms of cocaine, valued over $1.5 million, Lydon said.

While staying in the Grand Strand, the men and their “criminal associates” spent large amounts of cash while partying at Myrtle Beach nightclubs, buying high-end vehicles and taking expensive excursions to cities like Charleston, Lydon said.

The men smuggled most of the cocaine to “stash houses” in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area using clandestine work trucks, she said. The cocaine was stored in average-looking residences in middle-class neighborhoods where families lived to avoid law enforcement.

“Inside these otherwise normal-looking homes, drug dealers armed with assault weapons kept watch over safes full of kilogram-sized bricks of cocaine and sold it to other drug dealers who came from as far away as Washington, D.C., to purchase wholesale quantities of drugs,” Lydon said in the release.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds were then carried back to Myrtle Beach by the men, who shipped the ill-gotten gains back to their associates at the Mexican border via overnight mail.”

In November 2017, DEA agents and North Myrtle Beach officers with a federal search warrant raided the North Myrtle Beach condo. Authorities say they found more than $143,000 in money from drugs and a small amount of cocaine.

After both men were indicted by a grand jury, Ruben Rodríguez was arrested crossing back into the United States at the Mexico border; Abraham was arrested in Las Vegas.

“Both men have been in continuous custody since their arrest on these federal charges, and they will remain in custody until they serve out their federal sentences,” Lydon said.

Abraham Rodríguez faces 20 years to life in prison based on his role in the offense and a prior drug conviction, and Ruben Rodríguez faces 10 years to life, Lydon said.

Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong

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