Statewide prison drug ring results in indictments

West Columbia woman, three inmates in Columbia prisons face criminal counts for trafficking meth

A total of 15 people – including seven state-prison inmates – have been indicted amid charges the group ran a drug ring from behind prison walls that trafficked methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney Beth Drake said Thursday.

US Attorney DOJAmong those included in the indictments were a West Columbia woman, as well as inmates at the Broad River, Walden, and Graham Correctional Institutions in Columbia.

On Sept. 14, a federal grand jury returned a 21-count sealed indictment, revealed Thursday by Drake, alleging the defendants conspired to possess and distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine; used telephones and the U.S. Mail to facilitate a drug offense, and conspired to launder drug money by conducting money transfers, cash withdrawals, and purchases of and deposits onto prepaid cash cards.

The indictment also alleges unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, Drake said.

Additionally, she said, five inmates capitalized on their access to cell phones to conduct their criminal activities while behind bars, and to direct the activities of nine “facilitators” outside of prison.

“Using contraband cellular telephones, the U.S. Mail, and employing a network of suppliers, distributors and runners outside of prison, SCDC inmates brokered and managed the delivery and distribution of methamphetamine from California to the upstate of South Carolina and elsewhere in the state,” Drake said.

The cellular telephones, she added, were often equipped with touch screens and Internet access that enabled prisoners to coordinate drug transactions, confirm shipment and delivery, and transfer drug money.

The individuals charged were:
Melanie Renee Wiggins, 29, of West Columbia, S.C.
David Elijah Allen, 30, an inmate at Walden Correctional Institution
Jessica Lynn Gordon, 21, an inmate of Graham Correctional Institution
Samuel Travis “Flash” Wiggins, 37, an inmate at Broad River Correctional Institution
Sok “Friday” Bun, 27, an inmate at McCormick Correctional Institution
Paul Ray “Pop” Davis, 39, an inmate at Ridgeland Correctional Institution
John Marlon Acosta, 24, an inmate at Perry Correctional Institution
James Robert Peterson, 28, an inmate at Lee Correctional Institution
Heather Nicole Rudicill, 29, of Cowpens, S.C.
Beab “Ma” Keo, 52, of Boiling Springs, S.C.
Terri Dianne Newman, 40, of Greer, S.C.
Sokha Kao Aun, 47, of Wellford, S.C.
Robert Earl Floyd, 55, of Piedmont, S.C.
Jonathan Brent Martin, 51, of Chesnee, S.C.
Nancy Phon, 40, of Fresno, Calif.

The indictment followed a multi-year Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, according to Drake.

The task force Program is a partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Its principal mission is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug-trafficking organizations primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply, Drake explained.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance and cooperation of the United States Postal Service, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, S.C. Law Enforcement Division, S.C. Department of Corrections, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, Spartanburg City Police Department, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, Gaffney Police Department, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Marshals Service.

Categories: Columbia, Crime, Local News, Richland County, West Columbia