HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Accused members and associates of the ‘G-Shine’ gang were arrested in November and December of last year after a years-long, multi-agency investigation.
U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon said during a December 2018 news conference, 33 men and women were arrested as part of a drug and weapons conspiracy round-up, unsealing indictments for the accused criminals.
Now, most of those involved have pleaded guilty or are going to be sentenced soon. While the last of the suspects learn their sentences, the communities they operated in are enjoying much safer neighborhoods.
“This gang has wreaked havoc on our community. And the way these gangs typically form is that they are involved in continuing criminal enterprise, whether it’s larceny, weapons, narcotics, and they just grow from there,” Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill said about the 'G-Shine’ gang.
He said ‘G-Shine’ members are a sub-gang of the ‘Bloods.’
Lydon explained during the 2018 news conference that the ‘G-Shine’ gang was formerly known as the ‘Gangster Killer Bloods.' The gangs evolved in the 1990s from the ‘Bloods’ gang in the northeast. Sub-sets of it migrated down the east coast and settled in the Longs area of Horry County.
“We were seeing homicides, we were seeing shootings at occupied dwellings, into cars, assault on folks and of course our typical drug interactions arrest, drug associated violence," Chief Hill said of the rise in crime around the areas G-Shine was operating.
In addition to Longs, it included the Freemont and Poplar communities and areas along Highway 90. Hill said when he became chief in 2016, he noticed problem areas like Longs, Poplar and Freemont with issues bigger than what his department could tackle on its own.
“What makes areas like Poplar difficult to patrol?” WMBF News anchor Meredith Helline asked Hill.
“These communities are occupied by folks for three, four, fifth generation Horry County and further back. They’re scattered all throughout, we have had manufactured homes, you have single-family homes, you have homes tucked in the woods line so you know in order for us to get surveillance it’s very difficult," Hill explained.
The two ringleaders named in court documents are Aaron Delond Stanley and Richard Earl Hemingway.
Federal court documents show Stanley instructed at least five other people to sell heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine on his behalf. Agents wiretapped his phones and intercepted 1,300 calls.
Stanley and Hemingway ran and operated a stash house/clubhouse together for G-Shine on Live Oak Road in Longs. Hemingway told investigators he also cooked crack cocaine there, stored guns, smoked marijuana and play video games with other members.
Hemingway was sentenced to nine years in federal prison Thursday.
Hill said putting people like Stanley and Hemingway away under a long, federal sentence is a leap in the right direction.
G-Shine members have contributed to attempted murders and murders in the community, Hill said, but those charges won’t take down an entire criminal enterprise.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Everett McMillan agreed.
He told Helline that local, state and federal partnerships are effective when taking down organizations like G-Shine. He said the federal drug and weapons charges carry heavier sentences and they can charge more people than a charge of murder. That’s why both Hill and McMillan plan to keep the law enforcement partnerships going.
“When I got here I had to analyze a series of problems, both internally and externally. And my soul problem in the community was narcotics, homicide and the whole drug trade. Not to mention human trafficking is an offset of all of this. So I enlisted the help of our federal partners: FBI, DEA, ATF and US Marshal’s Service. And you see the results of that partnership. They have come out and helped us solve a lot of crime, reduce a lot of crime and the fear of crime in our community," Hill said.
Hill said his experience with the FBI helped him enlist its help for Horry County.
”I have a personal relationship, being a national academy graduate, so I reached out to my alumni class and said, ‘Help me.’ And they have continued to do so,” he said. “I won’t mention any names, but we have boots on the ground that are just phenomenal. I’ve never seen a working relationship with law enforcement like this in my 35 years in law enforcement. It’s not, ‘We don’t want it in our backyard,’ or ‘No you can’t come in and steal my case.’ It’s ‘How can I help make your community safer?'"
Hill said the people that are making round-ups like the ‘G-Shine conspiracy’ meet once a month to talk about emerging crime trends and issues effecting different areas.
Horry County police supply task force officers who know the areas and work with the FBI, ATF and DEA investigators.
Lieutenant Thomas DelPercio said he has seen the benefits from the communities he’s grown to know in his 20 years as an Horry County cop.
“The federal agencies rely on us for boots on the ground, intelligence-wise and investigative services-wise," DelPercio said. “When Chief Hill came in, he had some ideas about other partnerships with other federal agencies, specifically the FBI, and since then we’ve had those partnerships grow. We have seen our ability to partner up and make more solid investigations, and take more investigations federal to get more time."
Those results aren’t just talk.
“We have definitely seen less calls and less violent crime, assault and homicide in our crime areas, this area, Longs, Freemont and Cedar Branch,” DelPercio said.
The ripple effect of the G-Shine round-up and continued state and federal partnerships shows violent crime rates in all of Horry County have plummeted.
For the dates Jan. 1 through July 16, there were three murders in 2019 compared to 14 murders in 2018. Rape, robbery and aggravated assaults are significantly down. In all, violent crime in down in Horry County since the arrests of G-Shine members and targeted execution of federal partnerships.
Hill was candid when he said the decrease in violent crime accomplishment hasn’t gone without taking away from other goals in HCPD.
“Internally, I have to fight some criticism because I’ve taken officers from the street, officers from investigations and put them on this task force temporarily. Well then, other things suffer. We are delayed in solving other crimes or we are piling on the officers that are not on the task force, but I think it’s critically important that we supply the staffing to these task forces so we address these immediate problems we’re talking about. Loss of life or we’re talking about violence acts," Hill said.
“Without Chief Hill and the support of his agency and other local departments, federal authorities could not have put together such a successful operation," McMillan said on the phone to Helline.
McMillan went on to say targets like Stanley and Hemingway were zeroed in based on who police knew as ‘prolific’ violent offenders.
“The people that live in these communities are wonderful people. The community as a whole I believe is tired of the criminal activity,” DelPercio said.
“The other thing is the cooperation of the residents in that community. We need them to trust law enforcement. Across the African-American community and other communities there’s a lack of trust with law enforcement so we’re building that trust up every day," Hill said of what he’s working on and what he needs from community members.
While the chief said he knows the reach of the gangs is large, and the round-ups will continue as more criminals come in to take the place of those who’ve been arrested, he has one message to leave with you at home.
“Stay in touch with us. Hold us accountable to do our job that you pay us to do but communicate with us and you know try to get out and enjoy the community and the life you’ve built. And if you’re involved in criminal acts you can either stop or you can go to jail because we’re coming after you," Hill said.