NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Fifteen people have been arrested for the use and distribution of narcotics during a major sweep in North Charleston by federal and local law enforcement agencies.
The arrests and investigation stem from a joint partnership between community members, churches, law enforcement and prosecution to clean up the Charleston Farms neighborhood.
A total of 31 people were identified as suspects during the six-month operation. Of the 31 identified, 24 arrest warrants were issued. Fifteen of the 24 arrest warrants were executed Wednesday. There are still nine outstanding warrants.
Twelve suspects facing state charges were in Charleston County bond court Thursday evening and three suspects facing federal charges will be in bond court late Friday morning.
According to North Charleston police, the Charleston Farms neighborhood was at one point among the top five neighborhoods for violent crime. Four suspects arrested in the sweep face federal charges and will have a bond hearing Friday at 7 p.m. Eleven other suspects are facing state charges and will have a bond hearing Thursday at 7 p.m. More arrests are expected.
U.S. District Attorney Bill Nettles said that agents made an arrest sweep in North Charleston Wednesday, starting at 5 a.m. Suspects were arrested throughout the day. The investigation was led by the North Charleston Police Department in partnership with agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
North Charleston police Chief Jon Zumalt, Mayor Keith Summey, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, members of the North Charleston City Council and other members of the community were present at Thursday's press conference.
"The goal is to take career criminals off the street and help entry level criminals change their lives," Summey said.
In September 2010, investigators began a community based law enforcement project called the "Stand Project." The focus was on the Charleston Farms neighborhood, a six-block area. The purpose was to target the problems in the area and arrest the small number of people committing crimes.
"What this program shows is if we can get community involved, that's how we can get the most results," Wilson said.
Authorities are trying to pull criminals out of the neighborhood and then put into place programs to help reduce recidivism.
"These arrests mark the beginning of a commitment to return the community of Charleston Farms to its rightful owners, the hard working people who live and work there," Nettles said Thursday. "We are committed to inserting ourselves into the fiber of this hard working community. By inserting ourselves into the fiber of this community we will insure that the blight we have removed today does not return to this proud community."
NBC Dateline is doing a piece on the work law enforcement agencies and the community are doing in the Charleston farms neighborhood.
Authorities charged the following people with distribution of cocaine base on the state level:
- Leandra Bright , 24
- Dorell Butler, 28
- Tracy Toomer, 28
- Darius Carter, 22
- Jamal Smalls, 22
- James M. Brown, 22
- Terrence Johnson, 38
- Jonathan Grant, 28
- Marvin Grant, 20
- Brenda Ancrum, 24
- Dwayne Brunson, 25
- Sabia Brunson, 27
While 28-year-old Pierre Grant, 25-year-old Lavon Frost and 25-year-old Raynard Williams are facing federal charges of distribution of cocaine base.