Federal Operation Hell Swamp convicts 26 gang members

Members of the Bloods gang were targeted by federal authorities in a four-year investigation known as Operation Hell Swamp, the Eastern U.S. District Attorney said today.

The operation was detailed in a press conference in Brunswick County today.

Beginning in 2017, the U.S. Attorney partnered with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to investigate and prosecute Bloods gang members and high-volume drug traffickers operating in the Brunswick County area.

The investigation, named Operation Hell Swamp, led to the successful investigation, prosecution, and conviction of 26 defendants from the Brunswick County area. During the investigation, agents seized fentanyl, heroin, crack cocaine, and multiple kilograms of cocaine. Agents also seized more than a dozen firearms. 

Among the cases prosecuted in federal court were defendants who moved multiple kilograms of cocaine and directed criminal activity in Brunswick county, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

The defendants included:

• Nicholas Shamar Griffin, who described himself as the highest-ranking member of the Bloods street gang in Brunswick County. Described as a “significant cocaine and crack cocaine trafficker,” Griffin shot a man during a gang-related dispute while on supervised release from another federal conviction. Griffin was sentenced to more than 29 years in prison. 

• Covia Dzell Smith was a violent, high-level member of the Bloods street gang. The investigation showed that Smith committed several acts of violence, including a shooting. He was charged with drug trafficking offenses, was convicted at trial of all counts. He was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment.

• Spencer Bryant was found responsible for distributing approximately 14  kilograms of cocaine base in the Brunswick County area, and he was sentenced to more than 17 years’ imprisonment. 

• Andreis Jenrette was found in possession of cocaine, crack cocaine, fentanyl, marijuana, and a loaded firearm. He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. 

• Deonte Bigelow and Courtnae Wiley were arrested while transporting one kilogram of cocaine, which had a street value of approximately $35,000.  In total, Bigelow was found responsible for trafficking approximately 28 kilograms of cocaine. Bigelow was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Other defendants included:

• Freeman Hankins Jr. pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base (crack), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Hankins was sentenced to six plus years in prison. 

  • Deontray Tremell Bryant pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin, and received 70 months in prison.
  • Delmas C. Gause pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base and a quantity of cocaine. He was sentenced to 71 months’ imprisonment
  • Michael Montray Frink pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin, possession of a firearm by a felon, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He received 117 months in prison.
  • Alex Alterick Hamilton pled guilty to distribution of a quantity of cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
  • Ryan Alexander Stewart pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base, and received five years in prison. 
  • Victor Demetrious Watson pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a quantity of heroin; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He received ten years in prison. 
  • Terrance Leon Washington pled guilty to distribution of cocaine and cocaine base (crack); and possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine. His sentence was five years in prison.
  • Wayne Levanughn King pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (crack). His sentence was five years.
  • Rodrick Bryant pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base (crack) and a quantity of marijuana. He received 3.5 years in prison.
  • Zane Alan Williams pled guilty to distribution of a quantity of cocaine. He was sentenced to ten years.
  • Hester Griffin pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine. Griffin was sentenced to time served, plus six months for violation of supervised release.
  • Gregory Orlando Gause pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base (crack); distribution of a quantity of cocaine base (crack). Gause received a 2.5 year sentence. 
  • Spencer Lamont Bryant pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base; distribution of a quantity of cocaine base. Bryant’s sentence was 210 months in prison.
  • Bruce James Daniels, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base; distribute of a quantity of cocaine base. He was sentenced to 3.25 years in prison.
  • Anthony Junior Bell pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base; possession of a firearm by a felon. Bell was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison. 
  • Malcolm Jackson pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (crack); possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine base (crack). He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
  • Dev Vontrai Bland pled guilty to distribution of a quantity of cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison.
  • Shawn Deontae Hewett pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and 280 grams or more of cocaine base (crack); possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and a quantity of cocaine base (crack); possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Hewett is awaiting sentencing.
  • Oneisha Williams pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base (crack). Williams is awaiting sentencing. 
  • Gregory Lee Bellamy pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 500 grams or more of cocaine; distribution of a quantity of heroin, cocaine base (crack); possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Bellamy is awaiting sentencing.

Acting U.S. Attorney  G. Norman Acker, III said the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) investigated the cases, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott A. Lemmon prosecuted the cases. The office of District Attorney Jon David also provided assistance.

Operation Hell Swamp was named for the Half Hell community near Bolivia, where many of the illegal activities were taking place.

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