An eight-month investigation at a South Carolina prison has resulted in the confiscation of more than 100 pounds of contraband and 20 arrests, the state’s department of corrections announced Thursday. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office opened a probe into “frequent nighttime drone assaults” at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville in May 2021.
Since then, officials have seized an estimated 100 pounds of tobacco, 13 pounds of marijuana, 843 grams of methamphetamines, 114 grams of crack cocaine, 49 grams of cocaine, 12 drones, three guns, two knives, 25 cellphones and $6,393 in cash. Authorities also discovered abandoned drones in the woods near the prison’s fences that contained about 100 grams of meth and five pounds of tobacco.
In the latest sting over the weekend, authorities arrested Morrell Godbolt, Anthony Bullard, Buddy Berry Jr., Hezekiah Brown and Divine Scott. They were believed to be a part of separate and unrelated groups trying to fly drones over the prison’s fences at the same time, officials said. Each suspect was charged with contraband and criminal conspiracy, with Scott facing an addition charge of failure to stop for a blue light.
Their arrests brought the total number of people charged in the investigation to 20. The other 15 suspects are facing a slew of charges including drug trafficking and possession, contraband, criminal conspiracy and trespassing.
Lee County Sheriff Daniel Simon said one of the drones found this past weekend was the largest he’s ever seen. “These large drones can carry heavier and heavier packages. We are working hard to stop them from getting in the wrong hands,” he said.
In 2018, aat the same South Carolina prison left seven dead and 17 other inmates injured. It was considered at the time to be the worst U.S. prison riot in 25 years.