14 arrested after authorities bust Charleston drug gang

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Fourteen people suspected of being in a criminal street gang that manufactured and distributed drugs in Charleston have been arraigned in federal court.

United States Attorney Bill Nettles says an indictment alleges that all fourteen were members of a criminal street gang and that gang members conspired to distribute over 280 grams of "crack" cocaine, over100 grams of heroin, and marijuana, and that they used various places on the East Side of Charleston to manufacture and distribute drugs.

Nettles noted that the indictment is the result of the City of Charleston Police Department working in tandem with federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said that her experience as an Assistant United States Attorney convinced her that coordinating state, federal and local efforts produces the greatest result.

"This is the best way to have a positive and long term effect for the community" she noted, stating that in tough economic times it is always better to share resources."

The fourteen individuals who were indicted were Calvin Levar Dixon,   Michael Angelo Hayes, Arnold Terrell Bellinger,Jamile Raynod Harley, Kevin Lemort Coaxum, Iman Gantt, Kadrin Christopher Simmons, Laquell Takeem Dixon, Kenneth Bernard Brown,Shabazz Romell Wise, Montrell Sharife Wise, Tony Brown, Walter Demeatrus Brown and Charles Fabers.

If convicted, all of the defendants face an enhanced ten year federal sentence for their alleged membership in a criminal street gang.  Additionally, because of the weight of drugs alleged to have been distributed over the life of the conspiracy, eight of the defendants would face a mandatory term of life imprisonment without parole on conviction.

Also, if convicted, three would of the defendants would each face a mandatory minimum twenty sentence and a maximum of life imprisonment without parole.  Michael Hayes also faces an additional mandatory consecutive sentence of thirty years for two alleged violations of a federal statute which makes it unlawful to use or possess a firearm during drug trafficking crime.  Kenneth Brown faces a mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than ten years and not more than life.  All of the defendants are also facing a ten year sentencing enhancement based on a federal statute which makes it unlawful to be a member of a criminal street gang.

Nettles advised that all of the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.  He said that Assistant United States Attorney Sean Kittrell and Special Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Linder of the Charleston office are coordinating the investigation and prosecuting the case.

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