Operation GUNSMOKE: 26 arrested facing gun & drug charges

Crime News

A two-state task force unsealed 26 federal indictments sending a message to others out there that the sale of guns illegally, drugs and street gangs will not be tolerated.  

The U.S. Attorneys for Georgia and South Carolina along with other federal, state and local law enforcement announced “Operation Gunsmoke.”  

The task force started more than a year ago targeting people later charged with illegal firearm possession and selling firearms illegally.  

There are also several drug charges too.  

Nine people were named in three separate federal indictments in Georgia and 17 people were named in four separate indictments in South Carolina. 

“It doesn’t matter if you cross the border.  We are all willing to work together and do whatever it takes to stop this unnecessary violence and gang activity that is going on in both of our states,” said District Attorney Natalie Paine.

“We will not tolerate illegal enterprises, particularly the violent activities of criminal street gangs and drug distribution networks.  We will find them.  We will arrest them and we will shut them down,” said Bobby Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

The task force stressed that it wants to send a strong message for others out there doing wrong.  Arrests are still being made and more indictments are expected to come

The 17 defendants charged in South Carolina are:

  • Ronald Gartrell, a/k/a “RJ,” 33, of Aiken, South Carolina, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, multiple counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
  • Heather Collins, 42, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, and multiple counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine and Crack Cocaine;
  • Cornelious F. McKie, 42, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine;
  • Reihn Dracon Jennings, a/k/a “Red,” 28, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, Distribution of Crack Cocaine, multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime;
  • Christopher Johnson, a/k/a “Crip,”  32, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, Distribution of Crack Cocaine, and multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
  • Quinton De’Shaun White, a/k/a “Q,” 29, of North Augusta, South Carolina, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, Distribution of Methamphetamine, and Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime;
  • Kevin D. Sheppard, a/k/a “Bean O”, 35, of Jackson, South Carolina, charged with  Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;
  • Benjamin Roper, 42, of Aiken, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;
  • Jerome Morris Simmons, 38, of Aiken, charged with Distribution of Cocaine, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a   License;
  • Antonio Maurice Scrivensa/k/a “Bucko,” 34, of Aiken, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Using and  Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;
  • Keith Williams, 29, of Beech Island, South Carolina, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Distribution of Methamphetamine, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;
  • Larry Thomas, 20, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Distribution of Methamphetamine, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;
  • Charlie Edward Carter, 31of Beech Islandcharged with Distribution of Methamphetamine, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;
  • Rudolph Keith Scott, 27, of Beech Island, charged with Distribution of Methamphetamine;
  • Ray Hampton Baughman, 48, of New Ellenton, South Carolina, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
  • Xavier Mathaney, 26, of Aiken, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and
  • Rashad Lundy, 27, of Aiken, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

The defendants indicted in Georgia are:

  • George Edward Powell, 51, of Blythe, Georgia, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and Distribution of Methamphetamine;
  • Keldrick Demonta Streetman, 36, of Augusta, Georgia, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Distribution of Cocaine, and Distribution of Methamphetamine;
  • Jermarce Antonio Smith, 32, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Distribution of Methamphetamine;
  • Brandon Jermal Jenkins, 29, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Distribution of Methamphetamine;
  • Carl Walker, 56, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, multiple counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine, and multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;
  • Gwendolyn Johnson-Hill, 53, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Distribution of Methamphetamine;
  • John Willie Powell, 39, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and multiple counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine;
  • Ziquane Sandford, 21, of Hephzibah, Georgia, charged with Conspiracy to Engage in the Business of Dealing in Firearms Without a License, False Statements in Acquisition of Firearms, Engaging in the Business of Dealing in Firearms Without a License, Possession of an Unregistered Short-Barreled Shotgun, and False Statements Concerning Information Kept by Firearms Dealer;
  • Jacquetta Yarbray, 23, of Hephzibah, charged with Conspiracy to Engage in the Business of Dealing in Firearms Without a License, False Statements in Acquisition of Firearms, and False Statements Concerning Information Kept by Firearms Dealer.

The Regional Anti-Gang Enforcement (RAGE) Task Force of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) started the investigations.  Christine added that it began in Aiken County with a member of the “Bloods” street gang in 2017.  That member continued to carry out criminal activity while in the Aiken County Detention Center awaiting retrial for a murder in a 2008 drug-related home invation. Several other agencies were involved, including the Marshals Services in Georgia, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Burke County Sheriffi’s Office, SLED, North Augusta Department of Public Safety, Aiken Department of Public Safety and Aiken County Sheriff’s Office. 

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara Lyons and Special Assistant U.S Attorney Michael Marchman.

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