Crime & Courts

7 guilty in million-dollar SC meth ring. Feds say carwash wasn’t just for a clean car

Meth is stronger, more dangerous than ever

David Fawcett, a therapist who works with people recovering from crystal meth addiction, talks about the purity of the drug now available and the effects it has on its users.
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David Fawcett, a therapist who works with people recovering from crystal meth addiction, talks about the purity of the drug now available and the effects it has on its users.

Three more people have been convicted in connection with a methamphetamine ring based in South Carolina that sold over $1 million worth of drugs, and in which agents seized $600,000 cash and seven vehicles and put a total of seven people in prison.

Quirino Hernandez, 31, and Luis Rodriguez, 29, two Georgia men, and Adam Stone, 28, of South Carolina, all pleaded guilty in federal court to participating in a drug conspiracy, according to South Carolina’s U.S. Attorney.

The three convictions make a total of seven people who will spend decades in federal prison without parole for the meth syndicate that connected Atlanta to the South Carolina Upstate, according to prosecutors.

The drug dealing began at a carwash, the feds say.

Crossing over Lake Hartwell near Anderson, S.C., and then headed about hour down Interstate 85 into Georgia, the Exit 140 sign reads “Holly Springs Rd.” The highways off the exit are lined with pastures and dotted with gas stations before passing through Gainesville, Ga., home of the Gainesville High Red Elephants, about an hour outside Atlanta.

It was in Gainesville that Hernandez and Rodriguez sold meth to dealers from Anderson, according to Andy Moorman, head of the narcotics unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The sales went down at a carwash in Gainesville. Drug dealers from Anderson would come to the carwash to meet Hernandez and Rodriguez. The dealers would purchase kilograms of meth worth tens of thousands of dollars and carry the drugs back to the Upstate of South Carolina, where they would re-sell them, officials said.

Hernandez received a 17 year sentence, while Rodriguez will spend 13 years imprisoned.

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One of the Upstate meth dealers was Stone, who was punished with a five-year prison sentence.

Stone was a “courier” for a leader in the Anderson drug-dealing operation, Moorman said. Stone traveled to the Atlanta area multiple times to purchase kilograms of meth that he brought back to Anderson for other members of the drug syndicate to sell, including the group’s leader, Joshua Peace.

Peace, 30, along with two others from the Upstate, Regina Kinard and Brian Harper, were sentenced in federal court in August for their involvement in the drug ring, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney. Kinard and Harper helped Peace sell meth in the Upstate, mostly around Anderson. They sold approximately $1.2 million of meth.

Peace sent out couriers to meet drug suppliers in northern Georgia and the Atlanta area, who then returned the meth to Peace. He put the meth into the hands of local dealers, who would sell and bring the money back to Peace.

Peace already was charged in Georgia in 2011 for trafficking $18,000 of meth, the Gwinnett Daily Post reported.

One of the places where the ring’s meth was sold was Homeland Park, according to internet posts by Harper. Homeland Park is a town south of Anderson of about 6,200 people. In 2016, Harper posted an image online that said, “That over there is Homeland Park and those my friend are the finest shard whores meth can offer.”

Peace’s mother, Susan Peace, 63, also pleaded guilty to being part of the drug-selling conspiracy. She pleaded to using a telephone to facilitate a drug-trafficking crime and received five years probation with an ankle monitor and a curfew.

During the investigation and trial of Peace and his connections, authorities seized more than $600,000, seven automobiles and other property that they said Peace and others bought with drug money.

Peace was sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Harper got 12 years and Kinard 11 years.

David Travis Bland @dtravisbland

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