A multi-day, multi-agency sweep in Sumter County for illegal substances, contraband and stolen weapons netted 81 pounds of marijuana, $64,000 in forged checks, a dozen weapons, $17,670 worth of cigarettes, a stolen vehicle, almost two more pounds of illegal drugs, eight pit bull dogs and 18 arrests.
Sumter County Sheriff's Office hosted nine other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the saturation operation along Interstate 95 that began Thursday, June 14, and ended in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 17, though there were search warrants executed and arrests made at different dates and in different locations in connection with the group arrested during what was coded as Operation Ice Storm, according to Ken Bell, public information officer for Sumter County Sheriff's Office.
The amount of cigarettes totaled 1,178 packs of Newports, and the 81 pounds of marijuana was valued at $162,000, Bell said. Also seized over that weekend, which raked in 12 of the arrests, was $867 in cash.
"We want to send a message loud and clear that we will not tolerate criminal activity of any kind in Sumter County," Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said. "And this includes those criminals who want to pass through Sumter County using our interstate highways."
Operation Ice Storm was a coordinated effort between the sheriff's office, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Clarendon County Sheriff's Office, Drug Enforcement Administration, Florence County Sheriff's Office, Lake City Police Department, Lee County Sheriff's Office, South Carolina Department of
Probation, Parole and Pardon Services-Sumter Office, South Carolina Highway Patrol and United States Department of Homeland Security.
Dennis lauded the cooperation and assistance of the other agencies in making the operation possible.
"We work together as a team, whether it be local, state or federal, to halt criminal activity," he said. "When we seize those drugs, it keeps them off not only Sumter County streets, but those in other areas, as well."
Those arrested in the sweep spanned home addresses along the East Coast from Florida to Massachusetts, all 12 from Boston, North Carolina, Florida or South Carolina.
Those who were arrested in the main sweep were:
• Gino Walter Curry, 30, of Nelson Street in Boston, Massachusetts — charged with possession of cocaine;
• Javier Rodriguez, 48, of Peaceful Ridge Road in Tarpon Springs, Florida — charged with trafficking marijuana;
• Stanley Irvin Clark Jr., of Coley Drive in Fayetteville, North Carolina — charged with receiving stolen goods;
• Clayton Mitchell Allen, 18, of Arrowhead Circle in Ormond Beach, Florida — charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana;
• Jorden Vrion Dejesus, 20, of Harrier Drive in Orlando, Florida — charged with possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and possession of a stolen firearm;
• Desmond Montez McPherson, 30, of Hampton Avenue in Charleston — charged with possession of stolen property;
• Alicia Ann Mundey, 27, of Carter Corner Road in Florence — charged with possession of cocaine;
• Jamar Abdul Thomas, 42, of Meddon Court in Goose Creek — charged with possession of a stolen vehicle;
• Charles Lee Pough, 34, of Cataline Boulevard in North in Orangeburg County — charged with open container and possession of marijuana;
• Marquis Quineris Williams, 22, of Ivey Street in North in Orangeburg County — charged with possession of marijuana, unlawful carrying of a pistol and weapons and sale or delivery of a pistol;
• Marques Javon Jackson, 25, of North Road in North in Orangeburg County — charged with possession of marijuana, unlawful carrying of a pistol and weapons and sale or delivery of a pistol; and
• Crystal Fantasia Washington, 35, of Butler Road in Neese — charged with open container violation and possession of marijuana.
Rodriguez was pulled over after a deputy saw he was not traveling a safe distance from the vehicle in front of him on the interstate, according to an incident report. The deputy spotted a long duffle bag in the back seat of the Dodge Caravan.
"The male driver got out with his pants unbuttoned and unzipped, which from my training and experience, he was traveling a long distance without stopping," the deputy wrote in the report.
After questioning the suspect, the deputy gleaned he had a large amount of luggage for what he said was a short trip and, after searching the vehicle and bag, found what he felt was 100 pounds of marijuana, which would be valued at $200,000.
Pit bulls found at home with drugs
Before the weekend sweep, Sumter County deputies, DEA agents and Task Force officers executed a federal search warrant at 195 Wildhog Drive in Manning on June 6 and seized 125 grams of marijuana, 147.8 grams of heroin, 76.2 grams of methamphetamine, $10,237 in cash and eight pit bull dogs, according to information from the sheriff's office.
The dogs were taken away from the home because of suspected dog fighting activity, Bell said.
Cedric Smith, of Wildhog Drive in Manning, was arrested on animal cruelty charges from the sheriff's office and federal drug charges from the DEA.
According to the sheriff's office, the marijuana seized was valued at $1,250, the heroin at $29,560 and the methamphetamine at $15,240.
Marijuana grow lab found in Sumter shed
Also during Operation Ice Storm on June 14, Sumter County deputies and officers from the U.S. Marshal Task Force executed a search warrant at 2820 Hathaway Drive and found drugs in a grow lab in a home that resulted in the arrests of three more suspects, Bell said. About one pound of marijuana was located in a shed at the residence.
Mariska Morgan Baker, 23, Jerry Allen McCoy Jr., 31, and Corey Lake Butler, 29, all of the same address on Hathaway Drive in Sumter, were charged with two first-offense counts of manufacturing marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Butler was also wanted on warrants from Lexington County.
Two Sumter men arrested after pot found in car
A deputy was patrolling the Morris Way Drive area on Saturday, June 23, because of recent vehicle break-ins, Bell said, when he saw a vehicle parked in a driveway about five feet from the roadway.
When the deputy approached the vehicle, he reported he could smell a "distinct odor of marijuana, and he saw a U.S. Postal Service box." The passenger in the vehicle reportedly claimed he lived at the residence.
Once other deputies responded and a search of the vehicle ensued, they found about 346 grams of suspected marijuana in a vacuum-sealed package inside the Postal Service box and a box a sandwich bags. One suspect also had $1,720 in his pocket, and the other had $221.
Jay Kirkland McBride, 23, of Congress Street in Mayesville, and Sheldon Levern Benjamin, 21, of Lesesne Drive in Sumter, were each charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
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