State and federal authorities have busted a major interstate drug trafficking ring that brought heroin and cocaine into the Richland County area.
U.S. Attorney Beth Drake announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury returned a 41-count indictment charging a drug trafficking ring. Six defendants were arrested Sunday for their roles in the conspiracy, Drake said.
Jermaine Southall, Bilal Muhammad, Jamie Patterson, Lee Ball, Christopher Fulton and Aaron Meroney have been indicted for distributing and conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine and using telephones to facilitate drug trafficking, Drake said in a release.
The eight-month investigation focused on a violent narcotics distribution operation in and around Columbia, Drake said. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency began sharing intelligence on smaller investigations throughout the area, and later learned that other agencies were making undercover buys of heroin and crack cocaine that were supplied by this trafficking organization.
Drake and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott say the bust is an example of local efforts against the growing heroin epidemic that is sweeping the country and has made its way into the Midlands.
The six defendants are expected in court at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Matthew J. Perry Jr. Federal Courthouse in Columbia.