Two more have pleaded guilty in connection to what authorities described as a top-level drug ring with Greenwood ties that bought fentanyl and other drugs from Mexico and operated stash houses in Laurens County. The remaining defendants could go to trial as soon as next month.
Valencia Danielle Suber, who is an owner of Legends Bar and Grill in Greenville, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering last month. Also pleading guilty was Jamal Marcus Latimer, who admitted he conspired to distribute a controlled substance.
Both saw a number of other counts dropped as part of plea agreements that require them to cooperate with authorities.
Latimer faces a prison term ranging from 10 years to life and a fine of up to $500,000. Suber could receive a sentence of up to 20 years and face a fine of up to half a million dollars or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater. A booking photo of Suber was not immediately available.
Of the 13 people indicted in the case, 10 have pleaded guilty. The other three have maintained their pleads of not guilty and requested a trial. Jury selection is currently scheduled for December.
No one has been sentenced.
The investigation traces its roots to a series of drug buys in October 2017.
In a joint investigation, Greenwood police and State Law Enforcement Division officers bought more than 300 fentanyl pills across five controlled purchases.
Investigating the source for those pills led to what U.S. Drug Enforcement agents thought was a “drug trafficking organization.”
“Based on law enforcement sources of information, confidential source information, undercover law enforcement operations and an ongoing financial investigation, local law enforcement identified” four Greenwood-connected people “as distributors of significant quantities of cocaine and heroin and fentanyl,” prosecutors wrote in a motion for pretrial detention order.
Greenwood police said once they understood the scope of the operation, they referred the case to the DEA.
Court documents detail investigators tapping phones, planting a surveillance camera and undercover agents posing as representatives of a Mexican drug cartel while gathering the evidence used to indict 11 people in February, with two additional people being charged through a 46-count superseding indictment handed up in June.
Prosecutors say agents seized more than 20 kilograms of heroin during the investigation, which included raiding two suspected stash houses in Laurens County, and court documents indicate authorities are seeking more than $3 million through forfeiture.