by: Greg Suskin Updated:
LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. - For the first time, officers from Lancaster and Chester counties along with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said they managed to uncover a huge conspiracy to make and sell methamphetamine.
Dozens of people are locked up: 29 in Lancaster and seven in Chester. One more is still wanted.
The state grand jury indicted all 37 people this week on charges ranging from making and trafficking meth, to child endangerment, and disposal of the dangerous drug.
IMAGES: 37 in custody in massive SC meth bust
SLED agents voiced concern about meth being more than just a user problem.
"It’s environmental, and child endangerment too. Dump sites can pollute our water, and children are exposed to these meth labs," said agent Fred O'Neil.
Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile said he expects such a large-scale attack on the meth trade to make a major dent.
"Any time you can get 30 people off the street dealing with this quantity of methamphetamine, it'll make a huge impact," Faile said.
The sheriff was also joined by Lancaster Police Chief Harlean Howard and Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood. All three agencies and SLED were involved in the operation that dealt with a rise in meth labs over the last two years.
Faile said the suspects worked together to buy the chemicals to make the drug, cook it in their homes and sell it on the streets.
"One would go purchase the items needed to make this stuff, and then they would use another one's house to make it," he said.
By late Thursday, 36 of the 37 people wanted by police were in jail and charged. Officers said they expect the round up could lead to other arrests, or the discovery of other meth labs.
Across the state, 1,711 meth labs have been discovered and cleaned up since 2011. Most were found in the upstate and the midlands of South Carolina.
The names of the accused are as follows:
Cameron Issac Bunkley
Fred Garland Joel Coulter
Matthew Stephen Eason
Dusty Lewis Faile
Harvey E. Fowler, Jr
Melissa Karaffa Gambrell
Robin Ashley Lucas
Brandy Leigh Arant
Charles Cory Arant
Arron Joseph Baker
Robert Earl Baker
Joshua Paul Boyd
Tosha Leeann Bryson
Kurt Louis Crenshaw
Scott Veld Duncan
Nicole Ivana Karen Edwards
Jeffrey G. Godfrey
Trevor Weston Griffin
James Matthew Hall
Todd Michael Helms
William Edward Holley, Jr.
Michael Maximillian Hunter
Roy Junior Johnson
Carla M. Killough
Christy N. Knight
Joy Ann Lingle
Steven Scott Mathis
Allison Elizabeth Mills
Tony James Minihane
Jennifer Ashley Patricia Ann Morris
Kristopher Scott Rumsey
Bobby Joe Sanders
Dana Carol Sanders
Michael Todd Sims
Thomas Franklin Wright, Jr.
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