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State Grand Jury indicts 26 people following wiretap investigation



Release Courtesy of the South Carolina Attorney General's Office


(COLUMBIA, SC) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced today that the South Carolina State Grand Jury has issued indictments of 26 people for their alleged participation in a drug trafficking conspiracy primarily involving heroin and methamphetamine but also other illegal narcotics. These indictments followed a multi-jurisdictional investigation with cooperation among a number of law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies in South Carolina and Georgia. These indictments arose from an investigation known as “Rocket Fuel”, and are venued in Oconee and Fairfield counties.

The State Grand Jury returned two indictments alleging multiple but connected charges and conspiracies relating to trafficking 28 grams or more of heroin and 400 grams or more of methamphetamine. The investigation revealed that this organization allegedly trafficked large quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, and other illegal narcotics primarily into the Upstate during the course of its operation, which allegedly began as early as May of 2019. The charges against the 26 defendants represent 46 counts encompassing 81 total charges.

The investigation led to the indictment in South Carolina of four Georgia residents: Charles Douglas Graham (a/k/a “Cholo”); Carlos Davis Cuello; Hugo Enrique Vargos Torres; and Brandon Samuel Flores. “Drug dealers should be aware that if you traffic drugs to South Carolina, we will come and get you and you will face charges here, regardless of whether you have ever set foot in this state,” Attorney General Wilson said. Georgia authorities also arrested Georgia resident Jose Barajas and seized over a kilogram of methamphetamine based on this South Carolina wiretap investigation.

The organization in this case was estimated to have trafficked 1500 pounds of methamphetamine to South Carolina. Over five kilograms of methamphetamine and eight ounces of heroin were seized, as well as firearms, cash, and vehicles.

This case also marks yet another use of a purely state-run wiretap by the State Grand Jury through the auspices of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. “This Office and its law enforcement partners are committed to aggressively using every resource to fight those who would traffic narcotics into and through the state of South Carolina,” Attorney General Wilson said.

Attorney General Wilson thanked all the investigative agencies involved for their hard work and cited this case as yet another example of cooperation among various agencies through the mechanism of the State Grand Jury. “The State Grand Jury and the partnership between the Attorney General’s Office and federal, state and local agencies has proven to be effective in dismantling multi-county drug networks”, Wilson said. "The Attorney General's Office and all of the agencies involved are committed to fighting drug trafficking, and I can’t say enough to thank our law enforcement partners in this State and Georgia," he added.

Bond hearings have been held on all defendants except Charles Douglas Graham through remote Webex procedures due to the pandemic. A bond hearing has yet to be held on Graham as he is in Georgia state prison after his parole was revoked following this investigation. Nathan Charles Alexander has died since his indictment and bond hearing.

This State Grand Jury case was investigated with a partnership of the Attorney General’s State Grand Jury Division, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, the 10th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, the Chester County Sheriff’s Office, the Seneca Police Department, the Walhalla Police Department, the Jackson County (NC) Sheriff’s Office, the Rabun County (GA) Sheriff’s Office, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General David Fernandez, Assistant Attorney General John Conrad, and State Grand Jury Division Chief Attorney Creighton Waters.

Attorney General Wilson stressed that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.

Unsealed were 2 indictments that total the following charges against the named individuals:

Nathan Charles Alexander

· 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 3: Driving Under Suspension, 3rd or Subsequent Offense, § 56-1-460(A)(1)(c) (Original Indictment is Count 1) 0-90 days and $1,000, or 90 days home detention

  • Count 4: Reckless Driving, § 56-5-2920 (Original Indictment is Count 2) 0-30 days or $25-$200

  • Count 5: Failure to Stop for Blue Light, § 56-5-750(A), (B)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 3) 90 days-3 years or $500

  • Count 6: Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment is Count 4) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 7: Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun, § 16-23-20 (Original Indictment is Count 5) 0-1 year and/or $0-$1,000

Mamie Jane Black

· 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 8: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Original Indictment is Count 6) 25-30 years and $200,000

James Earnest Bynum (a/k/a “Jimmy)

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

o Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment)

§ 25-30 years and $200,000

Terrell Logan Compton

· 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 9: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 7) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 10: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 8) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 11: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 9) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 12: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 10) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 13: Possession of a Firearm During Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime, § 16-23-490 (Original Indictment is Count 11) 5 years

  • Count 14: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(2)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 12) 7-25 years and $50,000

Dustin Allen Cox

· 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 15: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment is Count 13) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 16: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 14) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 17: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Original Indictment is Count 15) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 18: Possession with Intent to Distribute a Schedule II Controlled Substance (Oxycodone), § 44-53-370(b)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 16) 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000

  • Count 19: Trafficking Heroin, 14-28 Grams, § 44-53-370(e)(3)(b) (Original Indictment is Count 17) 25 years and $200,000

  • Count 20: Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, § 44-53-370(b)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 18) 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000

  • Count 21: Possession of a Firearm During Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime, § 16-23-490 (Original Indictment is Count 19) 5 years

Carlos Davis Cuello

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) 25-40 years and $200,000

Michael Shane Elliott

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Brandon Samuel Flores

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

Gregory Eugene Goodine

· 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 22: Distribution of Heroin, § 44-53-370(b)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 20) 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000

  • Count 23: Distribution of Heroin, § 44-53-370(b)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 21) 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000

Charles Douglas Graham (a/k/a “Cholo”)

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) 25-40 years and $200,000

  • Count 8: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 35: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

Bethany Jean Johnson

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Shawn Matthew Johnson

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Timothy Brandon Luker

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Brian Dendy Nimmons

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Catherine Morgan Powers

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Thomas Reid Powers, III

· 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

· 2020-GS-47-18 (Superseding Indictment – Fairfield County)

  • Count 1: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 2: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 3: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 4: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 5: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 6: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 7: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 8: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 9: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 10: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Superseding Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 11: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(2)(a) (Superseding Indictment) 7-25 years and $50,000

Keith Allen Ridley (a/k/a “Roach”)

· 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

  • Count 8: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 24: Trafficking Heroin, 14-28 Grams, § 44-53-370(e)(3)(b) (Original Indictment is Count 22) 25 years and $200,000

  • Count 35: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

Kayla Dillard Rodriguez

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Haley Michelle Shook

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Julianna Elizabeth Sims

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Gary Martin Smith

· 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 25: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 23) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 26: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 24) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 27: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(2)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 25) 7-25 years and $50,000

  • Count 28: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 26) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 29: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 27) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 30: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 28) 3-10 years and $25,000

  • Count 31: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment is Count 29) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 32: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment is Count 30) 0-15 years and/or $25,000

  • Count 33: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 31) 3-10 years and $25,000

Karen Leigh Tippett

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Hugo Enrique Vargos Torres

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 35: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

Tony Arthur Turner

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Janet Loraine Tyner

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

  • Count 34: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 32) 3-10 years and $25,000

Jeffrey Wayne Wood

o 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)

  • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Attorney General Wilson stressed that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.

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