Steve DiGioia

“Devil in Disguise” Investigation: Efforts to Put an End to Growing Drug Abuse

An investigation that is taking South Carolina by storm with more than 300 charges being issued.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that the narcotics trafficking investigation known as “Devil in Disguise,” has many people involved in over 300 charges.

Reasons for the Investigation

South Carolina has seen an increase in deaths related to drug overdose since 2021 to a report released on Drug Overdose Deaths Statistical Reports for South Carolina by the Health and Environmental Control Department in 2023. The deaths have been mostly due to the overdose of fentanyl in 2021.

The drug overdose in the state has increased since COVID-19 as people found drugs a way to handle their stress and fear.

Sara Goldsby, director of DAODAS, said that fentanyl is mixed with other drugs to increase their effects without the knowledge of the victim and even a small quantity becomes a fatal overdose.

What is the ‘Devil in Disguise’ investigation?

It involves the distribution of fentanyl and its alleged dealing which has led to deaths due to overdose. Not only does it relate to drug trafficking but also involves money laundering and illegal possession of weapons.

Alan Wilson talked about the negative impact the narcotics crisis has on every community and to tackle the rising crisis and punish the illegal dealers, the state is doing its best to hold the criminals accountable.

The Charges

 

The charges focus more on fentanyl trafficking and its overdose along with trafficking in methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine. 

Five accusations were issued in three Upstate counties against 64 defendants on 327 narcotics charges. The State Grand Jury accused the defendants of murder and conspiring to murder by intentionally distributing fentanyl to victims who died of its overdose.

The Greenville County Coroner’s Office has recorded 278 drug-related overdose deaths in 2022, mostly due to fentanyl trafficking. As a response to the growing number of deaths, various law enforcement organizations have come together to investigate the deaths and punish the offenders.

Till now over six fentanyl overdose deaths have been involved in the conspiracy along with eight others being investigated.

A revelation has been made by law enforcement that fentanyl is used to adulterate heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs.

The joint investigation is being conducted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Greenville County Drug Enforcement Unit, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Department of Homeland Security.

The investigation till now has been able to seize over 1 kg of fentanyl and 1.5 kg of methamphetamine along with other drugs from the whopping amount of more than 500 kilograms of fentanyl along with methamphetamine and cocaine since Jan 2020.

Hearing for the defendants occurred on Jan 4 and continued till Jan 5 by Robert E. Hood at the Greenville County Courthouse. 

A solution for the overdose 

The South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services gave a solution for the overdose. 

Naloxone can reverse the effect of an overdose if used in time and does not have any side effects. It is available in pharmacies and does not need any prescription.

Along with that the DHEC and DAODAS have issued helpline numbers for all the people to contact for treatment and other sources. 

 

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