Drones carrying drugs, guns, cash to S.C. prison stopped after 8-month investigation

On Sunday, two unrelated groups attempted to fly drones carrying contraband into the prison grounds at the same time, police said


By David Travis Bland
The State 
        
BISHOPVILLE, S.C. — South Carolina police have charged 20 people in an eight-month investigation into "drone assaults" on a state prison, investigators announced Thursday.

In the drone assaults, people tried to fly drugs, guns, cash and other contraband into Lee Correction institution near Bishopville, SC, investigators said.

"These large drones can carry heavier and heavier packages," Lee County Sheriff Daniel Simon said. "We are working hard to stop them from getting in the wrong hands."

Razor wire protects a perimeter of the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, S.C., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.
Razor wire protects a perimeter of the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, S.C., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

The Lee County Sheriff's Office and the South Carolina Department of Corrections police force began the effort to stop the smuggling operations in May 2021, the agencies said. By August, police had arrested eight people. In January, police arrested 12 more, including five on Jan. 30.

In the drones-stopping effort, police said they seized:

  • About 100 pounds of tobacco
  • About 13 pounds of marijuana
  • About 843 grams of methamphetamines
  • About 114 grams of crack cocaine
  • About 49 grams of cocaine
  • 25 cellphones
  • Two knives
  • Three guns
  • 12 drones
  • $6,393 in cash
  • Packages that included numerous charging cords, lighters, bottles of liquor, candy and clothing items

Police also found an abandoned drone in woods near Lee Correctional's fence that held tobacco and nearly 100 grams of meth.

On Sunday, two unrelated groups attempted to fly drones carrying contraband into the prison grounds at the same time, police said.

According to police, those charged and their charges are:

  • Morrell Godbolt of Marion: Contraband and criminal conspiracy
  • Anthony Bullard of Sumter: Contraband and criminal conspiracy
  • Buddy Berry Jr. of Greenville: Contraband and criminal conspiracy
  • Hezekiah Brown of Marion: Contraband and criminal conspiracy
  • Divine Scott of Sumter: Contraband, criminal conspiracy and failure to stop for a blue light.
  • Cherish Lightner of Columbia: Trafficking in methamphetamines, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, trafficking in cocaine, trafficking cocaine base, contraband and failure to stop for a blue light.
  • Christopher Lovely of Sumter: Contraband, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, trafficking methamphetamines and criminal conspiracy.
  • Ashanta Bradley of Rembert: Contraband, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, trafficking methamphetamines and criminal conspiracy.
  • Tywuan Ford of Round O: Contraband, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, trafficking methamphetamines, criminal conspiracy and failure to stop for a blue light.
  • Thomas Holbrooks of Gaston: Contraband and trespassing.
  • Shia Young of Yemassee: Possession of a sawed-off rifle.
  • Cody Pearson of Rock Hill: Contraband, criminal conspiracy, trafficking methamphetamines, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and trafficking cocaine.
  • Devin Barksdale of Easley: Barksdale was arrested in two different raids. Charges include trafficking methamphetamines, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, contraband and criminal conspiracy.
  • Rashell Tracy of Spartanburg: Contraband and criminal conspiracy.
  • David Herrington of Easley: Contraband and criminal conspiracy.
  • Michael Mijares of Pelion: Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, trafficking methamphetamines and criminal conspiracy.
  • Marcille Glover of Columbia: Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, trafficking methamphetamines, criminal conspiracy and unlawful conduct towards a child.
  • Richard Marushia of West Columbia: Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, trafficking methamphetamines and criminal conspiracy.
  • Yah'Quann Gantt of Columbia: Trafficking methamphetamines and unlawfully carrying a pistol.
  • Kolin Frazier of Easley: Trafficking methamphetamines and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

Corrections1 Resource: How to buy drone detection (ebook)
     
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