Prosecutions help get drugs off streets - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Prosecutions help get drugs off streets

The 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit involves ten local agencies (Source: Amy Lipman) The 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit involves ten local agencies (Source: Amy Lipman)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Since February, 17 men have pleaded guilty in Horry County to drug-related charges and one was convicted by a jury. Together, they’ll serve more than 160 years in prison.

The prosecutions are part of a push to convict drug dealers through the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s office.

Drug cases make up one-third of the office’s caseload, so Solicitor Jimmy Richardson decided to assign two prosecutors specifically to drug cases.

“I just pulled the stats and was very pleased with what these guys have done,” said Jimmy Richardson. “It’s a few of those. There’s a lot of other ones where people were getting 10, 12, 15 years.”

The drug prosecution team will eventually have a total of four prosecutors.

State funding is helping the solicitor’s office hire one more drug prosecutor shortly and then the goal is to hire one more by next summer for the full team of four.

Richardson wants all drug dealers to understand where they can end up.

“There need to be real consequences to the sale, manufacture, trafficking of this poison that’s addicting so many people,” he said.

He also wants to cut supply. He said it generally drops right after big drug busts. He said property crimes usually decrease because they’re related to drug abuse.

He said a recent series of arrests brought significant improvements to the community.

“Until somebody came in and filled that hole, our overdoses were going from two a week to practically two a month, so it was a big, big decrease simply because they were some really heavy players,” he said.

However, other drug dealers eventually take over.

That’s why the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit constantly investigates cases, most of which right now are related to heroin or fentanyl.

“When we exchange information, we work together, the public is the big recipient there,” said Commander Bill Knowles.

For the past six months though, Knowles said half of his DEU agents didn’t have jurisdiction to work in unincorporated Horry County because a new agreement needed to be signed.

“It created a logistical nightmare having to put people with someone that had jurisdiction to accomplish what we needed to get done,” Knowles said.

Horry County signed the new agreement last week, fixing the jurisdictional issues.

“It certainly simplifies what we have to do,” Knowles said.

DEU still has more than 20 percent fewer agents than it did previously.

“Agencies haven’t had the personnel to give us,” Knowles said. “Then once they get them, they’re forwarding them to us as quickly as they can.”

Knowles said the goal and the outcomes are still the same nonetheless.

“We’re going to do the best with what we’ve got and we’ll continue to work as diligently as we can,” Knowles said.

Knowles said the working relationships now with federal agencies, such as the FBI, DEA and Homeland Security are actually better than he’s ever seen.

Every law enforcement agency in the DEU gets a list of the people they’re targeting to share information and avoid crossover efforts.

The following are the men who were recently prosecuted and sentenced:

  • Christopher Ronta Moody, 20, of Conway pleaded guilty in November to trafficking heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Steven H. John, who sentenced him to seven years in prison.
  • Travis Grate, 34, of Pawleys Island pleaded guilty in October to possession with intent to distribute cocaine base before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Steven H. John, who sentenced him to five years in prison.
  • Jose Armando Multos-Romo, 28, of Conway pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Steven H. John, who sentenced him to seven years in prison.
  • Curtis Blake, 49, of Conway pleaded guilty in September to possession with intent to distribute heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman, who sentenced him to five years in prison.
  • Allard Grainger, 32, of Conway pleaded guilty in September to armed robbery before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Steven H. John, who sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
  • Tavares Harrington, 28, of Myrtle Beach pleaded guilty in September to first-offense trafficking heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman, who sentenced him to seven years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
  • Lachic Collins, 38, of Myrtle Beach pleaded guilty in August to distribution of cocaine base before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman, who sentenced him to five years in prison.
  • Clinton Turnnidge, 27, of Myrtle Beach pleaded guilty in August to distribution of methamphetamines before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Thomas A. Russo, who sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
  • Dwayne Wainwright, 37, of Myrtle Beach pleaded guilty in August to second-offense possession with intent to distribute heroin, second-offense possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and possession of a stolen pistol before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Thomas A. Russo. He sentenced Wainwright to 12 years in prison.
  • David White, 42, of Loris pleaded guilty in August to being a felon in possession of a firearm and trafficking heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Culbertson. He sentenced White to 12 years for trafficking heroin and five years for the gun charge and the sentences will run concurrently. White also was fined $50,000 for the heroin charge.
  • Angel Montano Ramos, 27, of Myrtle Beach pleaded guilty in June to trafficking heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Deadre L. Jefferson, who sentenced him to seven years in prison.
  • Cornelius J. Richardson, 27, of Conway pleaded guilty in June to second-offense trafficking in cocaine and trafficking in heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Deadra L. Jefferson. She sentenced Richardson to 15 years on each charge and the sentences will run concurrently.
  • Corey Sherman, 40, of Myrtle Beach pleaded guilty in May to third-offense distribution of heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Culbertson, who sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
  • Calvin Barr, 40, of Myrtle Beach was convicted by a jury in April of first-offense possession with intent to distribute marijuana, second-offense possession of cocaine, and second-offense possession with intent to distribute heroin. The Honorable Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman held the trial in Barr’s absence after he failed to appear in court once the jury began deliberating on the case. In June, Barr was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the heroin charge and five years each on the marijuana and cocaine charges. Those sentences will run concurrently.
  • Robert Polite, 41, of Myrtle Beach pleaded guilty in April to trafficking in heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman, who sentenced him to 13 years in prison.
  • Dexter Small, 37, of Myrtle Beach pleaded guilty in April to second-offense distribution of heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Culbertson, who sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
  • Robert Hayes, 28, of Longs pleaded guilty in February to distribution of heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman, who sentenced him to seven years in prison.
  • Jonathan Hunter, 34, of Myrtle Beach pleaded guilty in February to distribution of heroin before the Honorable Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman, who sentenced him to seven years in prison.

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