Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett Dehart announced today that a joint team of dozens of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), arrested six individuals who have been charged in federal court for their roles in an interstate drug trafficking organization that operated out of Myrtle Beach, Conway, Florence, and New York City.
This is the second round of indictments in Operation New Optix, which began with the related indictment of 26 alleged drug traffickers in December 2020. Of the 35 defendants currently indicted, four remain at large and 22 have already pled guilty. This multi-year operation specifically targeted members of this drug trafficking organization based on their interstate importation of large quantities of cocaine and crack cocaine into South Carolina from the New York area, and their use of firearms in furtherance of their drug trafficking crimes. During this week’s arrests, agents seized approximately $272,546 in suspected drug proceeds, five vehicles, 11 firearms, more than 4.5 kilograms of suspected cocaine, more than 450 grams of suspected crack cocaine, and additional amounts of suspected fentanyl, heroin, marijuana, and other drugs.
The following defendants were arrested this week:
The following defendants who were charged in the first round of this investigation have pled guilty:
The following defendants from the first round are in custody pending trial or plea:
Operation New Optix is the latest in a series of joint federal/state investigations targeting violent crime in Myrtle Beach and Horry County. In 2017, Operation Silver Sunset targeted 29 associates of the Billy Bloods street gang, a subset of the United Blood Nation. In 2018, Operation Rise and Shine targeted 33 associates of G-Shine/SMG, another subset of the Bloods. In 2020, Operation Broken Branch targeted 31 members of a drug trafficking organization in the Cedar Branch area of Horry County. The recent arrests mark the latest, but not the last, joint investigation targeting violent crime in this area.
Agents with the DEA’s Florence Resident Office led the investigation, with significant participation from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), United States Marshal Service, Myrtle Beach Police Department, Horry County Police Department, North Myrtle Beach Police Department, Florence County Sheriff’s Office – Special Operations Group, Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office, 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit, Conway Police Department, and Horry County Sherriff’s Office.
“As this office has made clear time and again, violent criminals will find no safe harbor in South Carolina,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “Because of the work of our federal, state, and local partners, we have obtained more than 100 convictions and been able to dismantle violent gangs across the Pee Dee Region.”
“These convicted notorious gang-related drug dealers distributed poison to the community and caused fear through means of violence and intimidation,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Robert J. Murphy. “Step by step, the government disrupted and dismantled this once-thriving criminal network. This case has been successful because of spirited level of cooperation between DEA and its law enforcement counterparts.”
“Thank you to everyone involved for preparing and prosecuting these cases,” said Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock. “Our community is safer because of their hard work and dedication.”
Assistant United States Attorney Everett McMillian, Lead Task Force Attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), is prosecuting the case in coordination with the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
All defendants who have not pled are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Dylann Storm Roof
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