C-S.T.A.N.D: Conway Men Enter Guilty Pleas in Federal Drug Conspiracy
COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles, stated today that Marcus Dalton Hemingway and James Earl Spain, II, both of Conway, entered guilty pleas on drug conspiracy charges in federal court in Florence late yesterday afternoon. Hemingway and Spain were indicted earlier this year by a federal grand jury in a superseding indictment charging conspiracy to possess cocaine and crack cocaine. Mr. Nettles stated the penalty for conspiracy to possess cocaine and crack cocaine is a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a fine of $1,000,000, a term of supervised release of at least three years in addition to any term of imprisonment, plus a special assessment of $100.
The facts presented at the change of plea hearing established that the DEA Florence Resident Office, in concert with local law enforcement including the 15th Judicial Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU), launched an investigation into a cocaine/crack distribution organization operating in and around the Conway, South Carolina, area. Defendant Marcus Hemingway headed this drug distribution organization—an organization that many associated with the moniker “LAB CITY.” The evidence in the case includes historical witness statements as well as undercover drug purchases and seizures of drugs as well as seizures of U.S. currency. The investigation uncovered a conspiracy ultimately responsible for the distribution of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine as well as multi-ounce quantities of crack cocaine in the Conway, SC, area, and elsewhere, dating back to approximately the year 2000.
During the takedown on April 9, 2015, law enforcement effected state and federal arrests and executed federal search warrants on multiple residences in the Conway area, seizing over $50,000 in cash. Agents also seized multiple firearms, to include an AK47, from the residence where Marcus Hemingway was arrested. Later that same day, agents seized $106,000 in cash from a safe in a storage unit in the Myrtle Beach area—money being held by a Hemingway relative for Marcus Hemingway. Additionally, a kilogram of what field-tested positive as cocaine was seized on that date from co-conspirator James Earl Spain II. Spain told law enforcement that he was holding the kilogram for Marcus Hemingway.
The guilty pleas today follow a year-long undercover investigation by local, state, and federal law enforcement. The investigation is part of the “C-S.T.A.N.D.” program launched in Conway in late 2013. The program, an acronym for “Conway—Starting Toward a New Direction” is an application of the Drug Market Intervention program, coordinated by the United States Attorney’s Office, and recently utilized in the Charleston Farms community in North Charleston beginning in 2011.
The initiative is a unified, proactive approach that bands together local, state, and federal law enforcement with community partners in an effort to eradicate open drug dealing in a multiple block area of Conway. In addition to the federal and state arrests effected on April 9, 2015, seven individuals, who are considered by law enforcement to be lower-level targets, were not arrested that day—instead they received notice to attend a public “call in” meeting with the community and law enforcement held the week after the arrests at the Conway Recreation Center. All seven candidates attended the meeting, entered the “C-S.T.A.N.D.” program, and currently, all are slated for graduation in late August. The Conway community, law enforcement, and family members are working with the seven C-S.T.A.N.D. participants to support the candidates in a disciplined effort to engage in law-abiding life choices to include completing their education and obtaining employment.
Members of the law enforcement team involved in this initiative includes the Conway Police Department, the 15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit, the Horry County Police Department, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the Florence Police Department, the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Lance Crick of the Greenville office and Assistant United States Attorney Chris Taylor of the Florence office.