52 indicted for drug trafficking

Rocky Nimmons/Courier

Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark addresses reporters at a news conference announcing the indictments of 52 people on drug trafficking charges Friday morning.

Far-reaching operations target

meth, marijuana, prescription drugs

PICKENS — Local law enforcement agencies continue to wage a battle against drugs, and those efforts took a big step forward last week when officials announced that 52 people had been indicted in two different drug trafficking operations that reached as far as California.

As officers from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and Oconee County, Anderson County and Greenville County sheriff’s offices stood in support at a Friday morning news conference at the Pickens County Courthouse, Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark detailed the two operations — codenamed Operation Chill Factor and Operation Loud Tiger — which began as many as five years ago.

Chill Factor concentrated on an Upstate methamphetamine trafficking operation, and 17 people were indicted in connection with the operation. Loud Tiger, on the other hand, focused on marijuana and prescription drug trafficking and resulted in 35 indictments.

“We’re going into dealer territory and supplier territory,” Clark said. “We’re getting into their pocketbooks and putting people in jail who are spreading this stuff across the Upstate.”

According to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, whose office will prosecute the cases, the methamphetamine indictments allege that from 2011 to the present, those charged conspired to bring the drug into the state and distribute it throughout the Upstate. Trafficking in methamphetamine over 400 grams is punishable by 25-30 years and a $200,000 fine, Wilson said.

The marijuana and prescription drug indictments allege that from 2009 to the present, multiple people in South Carolina and as far away as California conspired to transport and distribute thousands of pounds of marijuana and prescription drugs throughout Pickens, Greenville and Oconee counties, with illegal activity also occurring in Anderson, York, Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.

Clark, whose office has been integral in a trio of major drug busts in the last month, said although the cases were all unrelated, he doesn’t believe the Upstate has a larger drug problem than any other area.

“I think we’re doing our job,” Clark said. “You’re going to see more of this as we grow and show what we can do.”

Those indicted in the methamphetamine investigation included: Lance Daniel Brace, 37, of Pickens; Michelle Godfrey Chandler, 49, of Liberty; William Scott Evett, 26, of Easley; James Richard Gaddy Jr., 52, of Woodruff; James Lewis Gill, 30, of Pickens; Jeremiah Brandon Holcombe, 37, of Pickens; Joshua Brent James,36, of Easley; Megan Ann Keiper, 23, of Pickens; William Joshua Lyday, 29, of Easley; Timothy Michael Merck, 29, of Liberty; Thomas Earl Morris Jr., 42, of Liberty; Jeremy Michael Pace, 27, of Liberty; Donnis Ray Parker, 55, of Liberty; Robin Christina Prince, 36, of Pickens; Timothy Dustin Ross, 26, of Liberty; Christopher Daryl Taylor, 30, of Inman; and Jennifer Christine Young, 31, of Seneca.

Those indicted in the marijuana and prescription drug investigation included: Emma Frances Poole Bearden, 24, of Piedmont; Michael Patrick Bobinski, 22, of Clemson; Jessica Grace Brewer, 22, of Pendleton; Kent Logan Carpenter, 23, of Florence; Amanda Raye Copeland, 24, of Ronkonkoma, N.Y.; Michael Christopher Davis, 24, of Taylors; Jordan Michael Decot, 24, of Greenville; Daniel Stuart Defore, 23, of Columbia; Taylor Alexander DuBose, 23, of Central; Joshua Ellsworth, 39, of Aptos, Calif.; Jessica Latres Epps, 25, of Easley; Duke William Finley, 23, of Raleigh, N.C.; Michael Ross Gordon, 24, of Clemson; Derek Michael Hancock, 25, of Piedmont; Justin Ray Harris, 31, of Greer; Adam Lee Harvey, 32, of Charlotte, N.C.; Carter Cowan Lathan, 25, of Greenville; Michael Anthony Looper, 21, of Fountain Inn; Jonathan P. Mangiapane, 24, of Jersey City, N.J.; Adriano Michael Menin, 22, Seneca; Andrew Michael Moran, 27, of Seneca; Reece Hunter Motley, 24, of Charleston; Patricia Kaye Norman, 48, of Crystal Bay, Nev.; Brian Preston Pace, 26, of Travelers Rest; Keegan Milton Rhoades, 23, of Myrtle Beach; Jarrod Randal Sampson, 33, of Norris; Nicholas Joseph Schirripa, 24, of Central; David Benjamin Scroggs, 23, of Clemson; James Michael Smith Jr., 26, of Travelers Rest; Thomas William Smith Jr., 24, of Greenville; Timothy Edward Suggs, 23, of Seneca; Farrell Katelyn White, 21, of Greenville; James Michael Wiley, 58, of York; Thomas Carl Wyatt, 28, of Westminster; and Thomas Kendall Yearwood, 24, of Travelers Rest.