AG Alan Wilson announces largest drug conspiracy to be indicted in state court

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– On Monday afternoon, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson held a press conference to announce the largest drug conspiracy to be indicted in state court. Officials say the case known as “Prison Empire” includes 487 charges alleged within 297 counts against 100 defendants, making it the largest number of defendants for a single narcotics case in state history.

Throughout the investigation, authorities say they seized about 20 kilograms of methamphetamine, 5 kilos of heroin, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine and 82 firearms. Officials say while the drugs were trafficked all around the state, they were largely trafficked to the Upstate.

According to Wilson, a great deal of the alleged drug trafficking was conducted by inmates in the South Carolina Department of Corrections using contraband cell phones.

“This case shows the importance of our State Grand Jury and its ability to investigate statewide cases that cross jurisdictional lines,” Attorney General Wilson said. “It also highlights what we’ve been talking about for years now—the danger of contraband cell phones and how prison inmates use them to commit more crimes even while they’re behind bars.”

Updated Poster

Operation Prison Empire
Courtesy: South Carolina Department of Corrections

In addition to drug and firearm charges, officials say burglary, kidnapping and other related charges are being filed against some individuals listed in the indictment. Officials say their investigation revealed gang involvement, Mexican sources for narcotics and a paralegal at a law firm who is accused of using hollowed out documents in legal mail to smuggle methamphetamine into the prison system.

“This is one more tragic example of the damage illegal cell phones do in the hands of inmates,” SCDC Director Bryan Stirling said. “The public would be safer if we were able to block cell phone signals. It is past time for Congress to act and allow states to jam cell phone signals inside prisons. We need a hearing on this important public safety issue.”

Click here for a list of defendants and the charges alleged in this case.

Categories: News, State