September 16, 2021

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Automotive maniacs

Dozens arrested in multi-state drug trafficking investigation

7 min read

OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Dozens of people have been arrested in a multistate drug trafficking investigation, called Operation Rocket Fuel, that originally began in May 2019.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference with several other agencies on Thursday.

26 people have been indicted for their alleged participation in a drug trafficking conspiracy primarily involving heroin and methamphetamine but also other illegal narcotics, SC Attorney General Alan Wilson said.

The investigation was in cooperation with several agencies in South Carolina and Georgia. Narcotics agents learned people involved were using the name “rocket fuel” for methamphetamine.

The organization allegedly trafficked large quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, and other illegal narcotics primarily into the Upstate during the course of its operation, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office announced.

The investigation led to the indictment in South Carolina of four Georgia residents: Charles Douglas Graham (a/k/a “Cholo”); Carlos Davis Cuello; Hugo Enrique Vargos Torres; and Brandon Samuel Flores.

The organization in this case was estimated to have trafficked 1500 pounds of methamphetamine to South Carolina. Over five kilograms of methamphetamine and eight ounces of heroin were seized, as well as firearms, cash, and vehicles.  

The charges are listed below:

Nathan Charles Alexander

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking methamphetamine, 400 grams or more (conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment)  25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 3: Driving under suspension, 3rd or subsequent offense, § 56-1-460(A)(1)(c) (Original Indictment is Count 1)  0-90 days and $1,000, or 90 days home detention
    • Count 4: Reckless Driving, § 56-5-2920 (Original Indictment is Count 2)  0-30 days or $25-$200
    • Count 5: Failure to Stop for Blue Light, § 56-5-750(A), (B)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 3)  90 days-3 years or $500
    • Count 6: Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment is Count 4)  0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 7: Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun, § 16-23-20 (Original Indictment is Count 5)  0-1 year and/or $0-$1,000

Mamie Jane Black

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 8: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Original Indictment is Count 6) 25-30 years and $200,000

James Earnest Bynum (a/k/a “Jimmy)

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) §  25-30 years and $200,000

Terrell Logan Compton

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 9: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 7) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 10: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 8) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 11: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 9) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 12: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 10) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 13: Possession of a Firearm During Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime, § 16-23-490 (Original Indictment is Count 11) 5 years
    • Count 14: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(2)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 12) 7-25 years and $50,000

Dustin Allen Cox

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 15: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment is Count 13) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 16: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 14) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 17: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Original Indictment is Count 15) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 18: Possession with Intent to Distribute a Schedule II Controlled Substance (Oxycodone), § 44-53-370(b)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 16) 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000
    • Count 19: Trafficking Heroin, 14-28 Grams, § 44-53-370(e)(3)(b) (Original Indictment is Count 17) 25 years and $200,000
    • Count 20: Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, § 44-53-370(b)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 18) 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000
    • Count 21: Possession of a Firearm During Commission of or Attempt to Commit a Violent Crime, § 16-23-490 (Original Indictment is Count 19) 5 years

Carlos Davis Cuello

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) 25-40 years and $200,000

Michael Shane Elliott

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Brandon Samuel Flores

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

Gregory Eugene Goodine

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 22: Distribution of Heroin, § 44-53-370(b)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 20) 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000
    • Count 23: Distribution of Heroin, § 44-53-370(b)(1) (Original Indictment is Count 21) 0-15 years and/or $0-$25,000

Charles Douglas Graham (a/k/a “Cholo”)

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) 25-40 years and $200,000
    • Count 8: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 35: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

Bethany Jean Johnson

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Shawn Matthew Johnson

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Timothy Brandon Luker

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Brian Dendy Nimmons

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Catherine Morgan Powers

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Thomas Reid Powers, III

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
  •  2020-GS-47-18 (Superseding Indictment – Fairfield County)
    • Count 1: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 2: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 3: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 4: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 5: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 6: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 7: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 8: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 9: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 10: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Superseding Indictment) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 11: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(2)(a) (Superseding Indictment) 7-25 years and $50,000

Keith Allen Ridley (a/k/a “Roach”)

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000
    • Count 8: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 24: Trafficking Heroin, 14-28 Grams, § 44-53-370(e)(3)(b) (Original Indictment is Count 22) 25 years and $200,000
    • Count 35: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

Kayla Dillard Rodriguez

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Haley Michelle Shook

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Julianna Elizabeth Sims

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 2: Trafficking Heroin, Greater than 28 Grams (Conspiracy), § 44-53-370(e)(3)(c) (Superseding Indictment) 25-40 years and $200,000

Gary Martin Smith

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 25: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 23) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 26: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 24) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 27: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(2)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 25) 7-25 years and $50,000
    • Count 28: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 26) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 29: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 27) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 30: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 28) 3-10 years and $25,000
    • Count 31: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment is Count 29) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 32: Distribution of Methamphetamine, § 44-53-375(B) (Original Indictment is Count 30) 0-15 years and/or $25,000
    • Count 33: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 31) 3-10 years and $25,000

Karen Leigh Tippett

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Hugo Enrique Vargos Torres

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 35: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More, § 44-53-375(C)(5) 25-30 years and $200,000

Tony Arthur Turner

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000

Janet Loraine Tyner

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
    • Count 34: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 10-28 Grams, § 44-53-375(C)(1)(a) (Original Indictment is Count 32) 3-10 years and $25,000

Jeffrey Wayne Wood

  • 2020-GS-47-11 (Second Superseding Indictment – Oconee County)
    • Count 1: Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy), § 44-53-375(C)(5) (Superseding Indictment) 25-30 years and $200,000
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