26 Charged with Federal Drug Conspiracy and Firearms Charges in Myrtle Beach, Conway, Florence

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. announced today that a joint team of more than 85 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers arrested 18 individuals who have been charged in federal court for their roles in an interstate drug trafficking organization that operated out of Myrtle Beach, Conway, and Florence, South Carolina. Three other defendants were already in custody on related charges. Five additional defendants remain at large.

These arrests mark the first in Operation New Optix, the latest iteration in a series of joint federal/local investigations targeting drugs and violent crime in Myrtle Beach and the greater Pee Dee region.  This multi-year operation specifically targeted members of this drug trafficking organization based on their interstate importation of large quantities of cocaine and cocaine base (commonly referred to as “crack cocaine”) into South Carolina, and their use of firearms in furtherance of their drug trafficking crimes.

“As this office has made clear time and again, violent criminals will find no safe harbor in South Carolina,” said U.S. Attorney McCoy. “More than 80 federal, state, and local agents stepped into harm’s way this morning. This type of selflessness and cooperation is why we have been successful in charging hundreds of individuals for major drug trafficking crimes or serious firearms offenses in the last several months alone. These types of operations specifically target entire criminal organizations, which in turn allow us to protect communities in the Pee Dee region and across South Carolina.”

“Citizens in Myrtle Beach, Conway and Florence are safer when violent cocaine traffickers can no longer peddle poison in their communities,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Robert J. Murphy. “While the charges in this case speak for themselves, dangerous drug trafficking organizations using firearms to protect their operations needlessly endanger the public. DEA and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting communities from violent drug traffickers.”

“The Florence County Sheriff’s Office has a long and proud history of working with state, local and federal partners to keep illegal narcotics off of our streets and we will continue to support those efforts,” said Florence County Sheriff Billy Barnes.  “We are pleased to have been a part of this most successful operation.”

“I want to thank our officers and our law enforcement partners for their hard work,” said Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock. “Here in Myrtle Beach, the local, state and federal partners are committed to keeping our community safe. This case demonstrates that commitment and the strength of the partnerships we have as a law enforcement community.”