CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A 21-year-old man was sentenced to 33 years in federal prison for a drug-related shooting, prosecutors say.
Cephus Mitchell was sentenced on Tuesday after pleading guilty earlier this year to the murder of Jamar Gathers. Mitchell had pleaded guilty on April 2, 2013 to Gathers' murder, drug conspiracy and discharging a firearm during a drive-by shooting.
Prosecutors say Mitchell, Skakeneth Daveaus, Demetrius Shawn Blount and Vashty West were all charged with Gathers' murder.
Court records state the defendants were part of a loosely organized violent criminal street gang known as "B-Mob," which sold heroin, crack, cocaine and marijuana out of the Bridgeview Apartment complex in downtown Charleston. Investigators say the leader of the organization was Gathers who was murdered in an ambush-style killing.
Evidence presented in court showed Gathers was intending to cut Blount and the others out of his network because money and drugs were missing.
Authorities say in response, the four defendants got together and plotted to kill Gathers and steal drugs and money held in a stash house at the apartment complex.
Court records state Gathers met with Mitchell and West at the apartments on Aug. 21, 2010. As Gathers turned to go upstairs, he was shot in the back of the head. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Kittrell said while agents were not sure who actually pulled the trigger, evidence showed that both Mitchell and West were present at the time of the shooting.
Kittrell said Mitchell talked to an associate after the murder and said that he had asked Gathers for a cigarette, and after Gathers gave him a cigarette and turned around, Mitchell shot him in the back of the head.
According to Kittrell, Mitchell said that he immediately gave the gun to West who hid it in the apartment. Prosecutors say West denied she shot Gathers, but noted that she failed to pass a polygraph test.
After the murder, Mitchell and another defendant took a kilogram of cocaine, according to prosecutors. Mitchell along with Blount and Deveaux were arrested within days in an apartment in North Charleston after police investigated a complaint about the smell of marijuana.
The three defendants were found with marijuana, a gun and $10,000 in cash. Kitrell said the cash came from a Gucci bag used by Gathers to hold profits from drug sales.
West was sentenced on July 8 to 29 years in federal prison.
Authorities say the case involved a long term investigation conducted by a task force put together to address violent crime arising out of the sale of drugs in the Bridgeview community.
During the course of the investigation, evidence was obtained using the federal grand jury, undercover work, surveillance, other investigative techniques, and information from various individuals.
A shipment of heroin which was being transported by one of the conspirators was intercepted on the highway and over 10,000 small bags of heroin were seized, all with the brand name "SWAT" stamped on them. The investigation showed that the gang in Bridgeview was also the source of supply for heroin being sold in a neighborhood close by, by another criminal street gang known as "RSK," for "Romney Street Killers."
The federal indictment resulted in the arrest of the individuals who were the source of supply for a significant amount of heroin being sold in Charleston, the members of the criminal street gang "B-Mob" operating in Bridgeview, and members of the RSK street gang.
"Onceagain, this shows the power of cooperation between state and federalagencies," said Solicitor Scarlett Wilson." This intense and complex joint investigation achieved fantasticresults for a community which has been whipsawed by violence. By usingfederal tools and long term operations, we were able to indict a significantnumber of people and disrupt a violent criminal group."
"Ourdepartment focuses on working to establish strong community relationships inorder to reduce crime," said Police Chief Greg Mullen." This investigation is a prime example of howsharing resources and information helps to achieve those goals. Ourofficers worked with the federal agencies to do a long term operations(including undercover work) and intelligence led policing. With these andother tools we were able to indict and put in federal prison the individualsresponsible for Jamar Gathers death, other street gang members and to alsodisrupt a heroin network."