After an investigation that was conducted for more than a year and a half, 18 men have been indicted in Sumter on federal drug charges.
The men, whose names and charges have not yet been released, …
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The men, whose names and charges have not yet been released, are described as "high-ranking gang members tied to violence between rival groups and conspiracies to bring multiple kilos of heroin and other narcotics into the community," according to Sumter Police Department Public Information Officer Tonyia McGirt.
McGirt said the suspects do not appear to be connected to recent gang violence and shootings stemming from a fatal shooting at the Sunoco Hop In gas station in September.
The police department and Sumter County Sheriff's Office announced the indictments in a joint news release that detailed Operation Stash and Wedge, noting that pending operations will result in more arrests.
The investigation began with local agencies combining efforts and resources with the FBI and federal Drug Enforcement Administration following concerns by local residents. During the investigation, it was found that the men were also tied to "large amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl in addition to heroin and other narcotics brought through the city and county of Sumter."
Many of the individuals charged also have criminal histories involving prior drug charges and convictions.
“Through the combined efforts of federal and local law enforcement agencies, this operation will substantially disrupt the illegal drug trade locally,” Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark said, adding that "the arrests will have a positive effect on the community that will be felt for some time."
Those arrested could face from 10 to 18 years – particularly for repeat offenders with past convictions.
That impact also will reach into rural areas where those involved in illegal activities thought their actions would go unnoticed by law enforcement.
“This operation sends a message that anyone involved in drugs or other illegal activity anywhere in Sumter County is within the reach of the law and will be
held accountable for their actions,” Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said. “Everyone, regardless of location, should be able to live in a community without trepidation about what’s going on near their home.”
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