Undercover drug sting turns scary in North Charleston

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - An undercover drug sting turned very scary while Live 5 News cameras were rolling.

The North Charleston Police Department's SPEED team invited Live 5 News to watch them in action. SPEED stands for Police Enforcement to Enhance and Deter.

We wound up right in the middle of the action.

The plan was for a female undercover officer to buy $30 worth of powdered cocaine from a suspected drug dealer. Sgt. Keith Elmore said most of the time the takedown goes smoothly.

"Knock on wood, everything's been good," said Elmore. "It's always got that aspect of being dangerous."

The undercover officer arranged to meet the suspect behind a laundromat on Rivers Avenue. She wore a hidden microphone so she can stay in contact with the takedown team.

"We've got officers hidden in the area close to the vicinity," Elmore explained.

With Live 5 News cameras rolling, a car pulled up, and a man got out and approached the undercover cop's car.

"Deal's good, deal's good, move in," said one of the takedown team members.

We also moved in, but the suspected dealer didn't want to cooperate and he got back in his car.

The suspect then crashed into our car and then tried to run, but he didn't get far. An officer shot him with a taser and he fell face first into the concrete.

The suspect was later identified as 34-year-old Lucious Kelly III. Kelly has a long rap sheet has been to prison twice. He has prior convictions for assault, resisting arrest and pointing and presenting a firearm.

Kelly was charged with two cocaine charges and resisting arrest. He is free on bond.

The SPEED team targets neighborhoods picked from computer maps that track crime trends and hot crime spots in the city.

North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt says the program has reduced violent crime by 50 percent in the last five years.

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