DARLINGTON COUNTY (WMBF) - In an effort to help get guns and drugs off the streets, investigators are cracking down on criminal elements in the Hartsville and Darlington areas.
The Darlington County Sheriff''s Office, along with Hartsville police, Chesterfield County law enforcement and agents with the State Law Enforcement Division, worked together to link two drive-by house shootings.
Now, investigators know there is highly organized and gang-related activity going on in the neighborhoods.
The DCSO said 14 people were arrested and all but one had a bond set following a joint operation that took place last week. Thirteen were charged with possession of drugs like marijuana, crack cocaine, and meth, along with five guns.
DCSO Lt. Robert Kilgo said one of the weapons was a high-powered rifle that could have possibly been used against an officer or a civilian.
"These weren't guns that were supposed to be out there," Kilgo said. "These aren't law abiding citizens with guns. These are guys that should not have guns."
Investigators saturated the areas of north Hartsville, Alphabet Hill and Marlboro Avenue in unmarked cars and with deputies who were out of uniform.
The No. 1 goal, Kilgo said, is to get the deputies out in the neighborhoods and gather intelligence about what's going on.
Darlington County resident Carrigan O'Neal, who has lived in the area his whole life, is now fearful because of the recent spike in crime.
"These guns aren't just dropping out of the air. They have to be coming from someplace where people know how to get them for them or sell them," O'Neal said.
Kilgo said last week's operation was the first of its kind to take place since Sheriff Tony Chavis took over. He added they will continue.
"It's an ongoing problem that has gotten to a point where we really have to hit it hard to get it back under control," Kilgo said.
In the meantime, O'Neal would like to have neighborhood crime watches in the areas.
"It's going to affect kids, adults, and have them fearful," he said. "Some of these things happening in our neighborhoods and our neighboring cities is absolutely ridiculous."