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The Loris Police Department assisted with Operation Broken Branch. Photo by Annie Rigby

Operation Broken Branch sees many individuals arrested

By Annie Rigby

Early morning on Tuesday, June 30, a task force of more than 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officers participated in the investigation and the arrests of 24 individuals for their roles in a drug trafficking organization operated out of the Cedar Branch area; four additional defendants remain at large.

The United States Attorney District of South Carolina, Peter M. McCoy, Jr, said the 24 subjects have been taken into custody and are charged in federal court for their roles in trafficking heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, fentanyl and other drugs. Authorities seized more than a dozen firearms, bulk ammunition and more than $180,000 in suspected drug proceeds.

According to the authorities, the investigation focused on the Cedar Branch Drug Trafficking Organization run out of the Loris/Longs area that impacted nearly every community in the region. The 18 month investigation allowed officers to document and record drug transactions, purchase drugs and wiretap the suspect’s phone according to the 60 page affidavit. The arrests are the first in a series of joint federal, state and local investigations targeting violent crime throughout Horry County. Operation Broken Branch specifically targeted alleged members of the drug trafficking organization based on the distribution of dangerous drugs and its members use of firearms in drug trafficking crimes.

Peter M. McCoy, Jr., U.S. Attorney District of South Carolina, said, “Pandemic or not, there is no safe harbor for criminals in South Carolina.” He continued, “I want to commend the exceptional efforts of the law enforcement officers who put themselves in harm’s way for this morning’s operation.” He stated that in the last six weeks his office has charged more than 50 individuals for major drug trafficking and serious firearm offenses. McCoy said that taking down entire criminal organizations allows the protection of the people of South Carolina to help ensure their neighborhood that they call “home” is safe.

Suspects who are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute controlled substances are Darrell Lamont Jackson, 46, of Conway; Carl Lee Green, 43, Longs; Bryon James “B” Jackson, 27, Loris; Mark Tyreise “Ty” Jackson, 24, Loris; Teraine Lavance “Juice” Green, 28, Loris; Tremayne Tyrone “Plies” Green, 24, Loris, Winferd Junior “Dunk” Sherman, 22, Loris; Phillip Jamal “Foo” Johnson, 28, Loris; Antra Trumaine “Priest” Gore, 37, Loris; Angelo Taray “Che Che” Jackson, 23, Loris; Robert Jermaine “Ant” Attaway, 26, Myrtle Beach; Anthony Lamont “Esse” Nealey, 40, Longs; James Gomilous “Scooby” Riggins, 43, Tabor City, N.C. and Lateice Laneice “Teice” Griffin, 28, Longwood, N.C.

Antra Trumaine Gore is also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and Phillip Jamal Johnson is charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Leon Dale “Young” Green, 31 Loris; Teontric Sawiwina “T” Jackson, 28, Loris; James “Brix” Myers, III, 31, Loris; Devante Jaquan “Buddy Ro” Squires, 25, Loris, Shaquan Taereek “Obe” Hemingway, 22, Loris, Tyruss Kendrez “OT” Hemingway, 19, Loris; Alfredo “AG” Gore, 41 Loris; Montel Lasau “Pooh” Hyppolite, 21, Loris; and Billie Lee “Old School” Green, 59, Longs. One unnamed subject was included in the arrests made in this operation. The suspects face maximum penalties between 20 years to life in prison.

Three of the four suspects at large are Tyshon Lamont “Rondo” Clifton, 20, Loris, Bradley Christopher Griffin, Jr. of Longwood, N.C. and Timothy Mondale “Black” Long, 38, Loris.

Operation Broken Branch is at least the third investigation targeting violent crime in the area. In 2017 Operation Silver Sunset targeted 29 associates of the Billy Bloods street gang, a subset of the United Blood Nation. In 2018 Operation Rise and Shine targeted 34 associates of the G-Shine/SMG, another subset of the Bloods. Special Agent in charge of the FBI, Jody Norris, said, “These complaints and arrests demonstrate drug trafficking organizations will be investigated and dismantled, no matter what corner of South Carolina they are found.”The agencies involved with the investigation were the FBI, the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office DEU, Horry County Sheriff’s Office, 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Myrtle Beach Police Department, Horry County Police Department, Coastal Carolina University Police Department, Loris Police Department, Conway Police Department, North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina, South Carolina Highway Patrol and City of Georgetown Police Department.

Chief Gary Buley of the LPD said four members of his staff assisted with transporting suspects to J. Rueben Long Detention Center. He said, “They will be processed through the jail and then the process would be to send the subjects to Florence to face the federal charges against them.” Buley said, “It has been an 18 month investigation with many hours working with the 15th Circuit Court DEU task force;” he continued, “we have spent 100 plus hours a week working on this investigation.” He stated Lt. Larry Williams was instrumental in helping with the investigation and wants to give him the recognition he deserves with the many hours dedicated to Operation Broken Branch; he stated that he and Williams were called out all hours of the night to” track these guys down.” He stated Williams spent many nighttime hours working on the investigation and reporting to work the next morning to continue his normal duties with the LPD.

Buley said, “When I became police chief my first priority was to ask the citizens of Loris what they are most concerned about that the police department can help. He continued, “The highest concern was about the drugs in the city.” He said he made the commitment to help clean up the drug problems in Loris and joined units and organizations that would make an impact on the city of Loris.

There are many activities and actions besides patrolling the streets and traffic stops that the LPD is not recognized for doing, the LPD officers watch after the community and the welfare of the residents in Loris.

Updated on Monday, July 6, one of the four subjects at large was taken into custody.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.

About Annie Rigby