“This is the beginning of an effort hold those accountable who are responsible for this continuing violence in our communities.“
A joint team of more than 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officers arrested nine people charged in federal court for roles in an alleged drug trafficking conspiracy and firearms charges operating in Charleston.
“We have a violent crime problem in this country, in this state, in this Lowcountry region and in our city,” Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “We need to do something about it, and we’e doing that today.”
Operation Cash Out followed a months-long investigation that included officials with the FBI, ATF and 10 other local and state law enforcement agencies. The arrests came after a 46-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury targeting alleged members of the West Cash street gang police say was behind local violent crime.
The indictment alleges six of the 13 defendants conspired to possess and distribute illicit drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. Defendants could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Four of the defendants are not currently in police custody.
“We need to disrupt this violence, and this is one step in that direction,” Reynolds said. “This is just the beginning. This is the beginning of an effort hold those accountable who are responsible for this continuing violence in our communities.”
Charleston County sheriff Kristin Graziano echoed Reynolds’ statement.
“This is our community, and we’re taking it back today,” she said. “We’re not finished, and we are not going to stop until our communities are safe again — when our kids can go outside without the fear of a stray bullet ripping through their neighborhood while they’re trying to play.”
The nine defendants currently in custody are:
- Antwan Xavier Grant of Charleston
- Tevin Jermaine Fulmore of North Charleston
- Zyshonne Tremonte Dayon Gantt of Charleston
- Rashad Montez Heyward-Williams of Charleston
- De’Andre Marquel Williams of Charleston
- Essence Tamia Cemon Ancrum of North Charleston
- Antonio Snipe Jr. of Charleston
- Demetrius Samire Costen of North Charleston
- Jackie Benson of Summerville