Ridgeland man, leader of large drug trafficking ring, pleads guilty in federal court
CHARLESTON, SC (Feb. 8, 2019) – A 31-year-old Ridgeland man has pleaded guilty in federal court to drug charges, in a multi-state case prosecuted through a partnership between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
Demetrius Dwayne Swinton, known on the street as “Million Dolla Meat,” was to stand trial this week before pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel of Charleston accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Bianchi of the Charleston Office and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Carra Henderson of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office are prosecuting the case.
"Demetrius Swinton’s criminal activity had been an ongoing problem for the 14th Circuit," Solicitor Duffie Stone said. "It's fortunate that we've had this tremendous partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office in place for a number of years now. It has been invaluable in our efforts to get dangerous people like Swinton off the streets."
Swinton was the last of 13 defendants to plead guilty to their involvement in the drug conspiracy. Previously pleading guilty to their involvement were Liz Ashante Christopher, Christopher Johnson, Travis Wiggins, Derrick Edwards, Johnita Anderson, David Grober, Boston Brown, Samuel Jones, Ernest Tyrone Fields, Devin Swinton, Ryan Walters, and Terrance Wallace.
Defendants Demetrius Swinton, Christopher, Wiggins, Edwards, Anderson, Grober, Jones, Fields, and Walters each face up to life imprisonment in federal custody. Demetrius Swinton also agreed to forfeit $500,000, two vehicles and several pieces of jewelry. Defendants Devin Swinton, Johnson, and Brown each face up to 40 years in federal custody for their involvement in the conspiracy, while Wallace faces up to 20 years in federal custody for his involvement. Defendants Wiggins and Edwards both also pled guilty to possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, which carries a minimum of five years in federal custody to be served consecutive to any other sentence received.
Evidence presented to the court established that Demetrius Swinton was the leader of a cocaine trafficking organization responsible for bringing a large volume of cocaine into South Carolina, primarily into Beaufort and Jasper counties. The investigation established that Swinton was receiving multiple kilograms of cocaine at a time from a source in Atlanta and that he used a number of associates to assist in both the distribution of drugs and the collection of drug proceeds. Agents seized more than 47 kilograms of cocaine, 782 grams of crack cocaine, 6 kilograms of marijuana, 97 grams of heroin, 10 firearms, five vehicles, more than $50,000 worth of jewelry and more than $68,000 cash.
“With these convictions, we are able to bring a long-overdue sense of justice to the communities that have been so greatly affected by drug trafficking and violence,” Lydon said. “We truly appreciate the efforts of our federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in working together to hold so many people accountable for such serious crimes.”
Robert J. Murphy, the special agent in charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, "The Demetrius Swinton violent drug trafficking organization plagued communities in South Carolina for far too long. This investigation clearly validates the correlation between drug trafficking and violent crime. The guilty pleas of Swinton and his co-defendants underscore the seamless law enforcement collaboration between DEA, the Beaufort, Hampton, and Jasper County Sheriff's Offices, the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office."
“Drugs wreak havoc on communities, and this case is no different,” said John Eisert, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Charlotte. “With drugs comes violence, and I am happy to say several South Carolina cities are now safer due to the investigative efforts of HSI and its partners.”
The case was investigated by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Hampton County Sheriff’s Office, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, City of Charleston Police Department, Summerville Police Department, North Charleston Police Department, Mount Pleasant Police Department, S.C. Highway Patrol, and the S.C. National Guard.