67-year-old Chapin man sentenced for methamphetamine trafficking
Thomas Sutton Ray, a 67-year-old Chapin man, was sentenced this week in Lexington County General Sessions Court to eight years for two counts of Trafficking Methamphetamine, Possession of a Weapon during the Commission of a Violent Crime, and Criminal Conspiracy.
The sentence was handed down by Circuit Court Judge Eugene C. Griffith, Jr.Trafficking methamphetamine is classified under South Carolina law as a violent crime and is a “no parole” offense. Ray’s trial was scheduled to begin this week, however, Ray elected to plead guilty instead of going forward with his drug trafficking trial.
On March 14, Ray was observed by agents with the U.S. Office of Inspector General making several drug transactions in Richland County before crossing the river into Lexington County where his vehicle was stopped by West Columbia Police Department patrol units on Augusta Highway.
Narcotics investigators arrived at the scene of the traffic stop and recovered approximately 33 grams of “ice,” a crystalized form of methamphetamine, during a search of Ray’s outer clothing. In addition, a search of the vehicle revealed a 9 mm pistol that Ray used in furtherance of trafficking methamphetamine. Investigators also seized $896.00 of U.S.currency obtained by Ray as a result of drug activity.
While out on bond, Ray was subsequently arrested on a second charge of trafficking methamphetamine by the Columbia Police Department on April 19. Pursuant to an ongoing investigation, Columbia P.D.narcotics investigators apprehended Ray in the parking lot area of the Harbison Target where he was found to be in possession of 20 grams of“crystal ice.”
Eleventh Circuit Assistant Solicitors Matt Edgerton and Bradley Pogue prosecuted the case. Assistant Solicitor Edgerton remarked,“Methamphetamine continues to pose an increasing public health and safety issue for Lexington County.
The West Columbia Police Department& Columbia P.D. investigators did top notch police work. Their dedication to the safety of Lexington County residents is what ultimately put a violent drug trafficker behind bars.”