A methamphetamine ring run by inmates in South Carolina prisons was broken up by a multi-agency investigation, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday.
Long-time drug traffickers — using cell phones smuggled into prisons — coordinated a multi-state drug smuggling ring from behind bars, according to the attorney general’s office. Using their contraband phones, they allegedly coordinated with accomplices and Mexican cartels to transport methamphetamine from Atlanta to the South Carolina Upstate, according to the attorney general’s office.
“It might surprise people that cartel drug trafficking happens in South Carolina, but it does and we’re fighting to stop it,” S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement.
A state grand jury indictment, unsealed Thursday, brings 170 charges against 43 defendants for the trafficking of more than 25 kilograms of methamphetamine.
The multi-year investigation, which involved state and local law enforcement as well as investigators from the South Carolina Department of Corrections, was named “Las Señoritas” for the group of women at the center of the investigation.
The so-called “Señoritas” allegedly coordinated with inmates who ran “command and control” for the entire operation from inside prison, Wilson said at a Thursday news conference. Communicating via contraband cell phones, the inmates directed the women to deliver drugs, primarily methamphetamine, from Atlanta to the Upstate via the I-85 corridor.
The women are believed to have fled to Mexico, according to Wilson. Chelsie Marie Anderson, Jennifer Nicole Burns, and Amy Deanna Cobb a/k/a Emma allegedly fled to Mexico in late 2018-2020, according to the attorney general’s office. Marcy Dawn Vickers allegedly and Kelli Edwards allegedly fled to Mexico in 2022, followed by Michael Pardi last month, according to the statement.
One of the women is believed to have married a cartel member, Wilson said.
Thirty-four of the people named in the indictment have been arrested since Jan. 3, while seven defendants are believed to have fled to Mexico. They are thought to be hiding with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, according to Wilson.
Among those named in the indictment are inmates Darrell Foster McCoy, Jr. a/k/a “DJ,” and Matthew David McCoy. The brothers have been involved in drug trafficking since 2011 and have been in prison since 2015, according to the attorney general’s office.
At bond hearings last week, the McCoys were notified that the state intends to seek prison sentences of life without parole.
The co-conspirators are charged with trafficking more than 400 grams of methamphetamine, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum sentence of 30 years.