Release Courtesy of the South Carolina Attorney General's Office
January 12th, 2023
(COLUMBIA, SC) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced today that the South Carolina State Grand Jury has issued indictments in the drug trafficking case known as “Las Señoritas”. The indictments currently unsealed in the investigation collectively contain 170 charges against 43 defendants. “It might surprise people that cartel drug trafficking happens in South Carolina, but it does and we’re fighting to stop it,” Attorney General Wilson said. “By working with our partners at SLED and local agencies, we’re able to investigate and prosecute complex trafficking conspiracies like this one and defend the rule of law. I want to extend my deepest appreciation to all the different agencies, investigators, prosecutors, and everyone behind the scenes who have helped in this case.” On Tuesday, January 3, 2023, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (“SLED”), along with local law enforcement, began arresting targets of this investigation. The investigation focused on a drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) operating in Pickens, Greenville, Laurens, Anderson, and Oconee Counties. Forty-three co-conspirators are charged with Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum sentence of 30 years. These co-conspirators are also facing multiple charges related to their role in the DTO. The investigation is named “Las Señoritas” because several of the main targets are women who have allegedly fled to Mexico to escape prosecution in the United States. Chelsie Marie Anderson, Jennifer Nicole Burns, and Amy Deanna Cobb a/k/a Emma allegedly fled to Mexico in late 2018-2020. Defendant Marcy Dawn Vickers allegedly fled in 2022. Defendant Kelli Edwards allegedly fled in October 2022. Defendant Michael Pardi allegedly fled last month. These defendants are allegedly living among Jalisco New Generation Cartel members and sourcing drugs directly from the Cartel. The “Señoritas” would allegedly coordinate with SCDC inmates via contraband cell phones to have drugs, primarily methamphetamine, delivered to co-conspirators in the South Carolina Upstate. These co-conspirators would drive to Atlanta, GA, or other locations to pick up kilograms of methamphetamine, bring that methamphetamine to South Carolina, and distribute it in the Upstate. Between February 1, 2021 and December 14, 2022, law enforcement seized over 25 kilograms of methamphetamine (street value of approximately $800,000.00) and 30 guns as part of this investigation.
SCDC Inmates Darrell Foster McCoy, Jr. a/k/a “DJ” and Matthew David McCoy have been involved in drug trafficking since 2011. Both brothers have been incarcerated at SCDC since 2015 and have allegedly continued trafficking methamphetamine from prison using contraband cell phones. The McCoys were served with Notice of the State’s Intention to Seek Sentencing of Life Without the Possibility of Parole at their bond hearings last week. The Federal Communications Commission passed a rule that will allow state prisons to identify contraband cellphones and require carriers to turn the phone signals off in 2021. “We were the first state prison system to apply under this rule and months later, five vendors that have completed the vendor application process are still waiting on the FCC to approve the applications to provide this service,” SCDC Director Bryan Stirling said. “I urge the commission to act quickly so we can stop this stop this criminal activity from being orchestrated from behind our nation’s state prison walls.” While South Carolina has long lobbied Congress to pass the Cellphone Jamming Reform Act, which would allow state prison systems to jam cellphone signals, the act has never received a hearing. “Everyone in America would be safer if Congress would pass this legislation,” Stirling said. Judge DeAndrea Benjamin denied bond for twenty-three of the thirty-two defendants who were arrested. The case was investigated by the South Carolina State Grand Jury, which was assisted in this case by a partnership of the Attorney General’s State Grand Jury Division, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the South Carolina Department of Corrections’ Office of the Inspector General, the Greenville County Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit, the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor’s office, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, Easley Police Department, Abbeville County Sheriff's Office, and the Oconee County Sheriff's Office.