Crime & Courts

Big Fentanyl Bust Leads To Federal Conviction

Ring manufactured more than one million counterfeit pills from California-based fentanyl …

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A South Carolina woman will be spending the next three years in federal prison for her part in a multi-state fentanyl distribution ring.

Patricia Ann Hemphill, 51, received the sentence three-year sentence from U.S. district court judge Mary Geiger Lewis on Wednesday after pleading guilty in open court. Unlike the state correctional system, there is no parole in the federal system.

According to evidence presented to the court, a distributor in California provided large amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana. Ring members flew to California and arranged for these drugs to be shipped to the Rock Hill and Charlotte areas. The group then passed them on to local drug dealers. More than 255 packages containing the drugs were sent from California during one year.

Additionally, the ring used fentanyl to make more than one million counterfeit Roxicodone pills – which were sold to users from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta, with sales also reported in Rock Hill, Greenville, Charlotte, and Atlanta.

Hemphill even allowed her son to use her house to distribute drugs in their area.

Authorities arrested nineteen people in connection with the ring’s activities. So far sixteen of them - including Hemphill and her son, Darryl Hemphill - have pled guilty to their involvement. The remaining three defendants were convicted at trial in August 2022 and will be sentenced at a later date

Assistant U.S. Attorney William K. Witherspoon prosecuted the case.

Agents from the FBI, York County multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement unit, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Rock Hill police department, York County sheriff’s office, and the Richland County sheriff’s department participated in investigating and breaking up the ring.

The federal fentanyl bust comes at a time when South Carolina law enforcement leaders are pushing hard for a fentanyl trafficking statute at the state level. These leaders - including S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) chief Mark Keel - are pushing for the passage of this statute in response to a worsening epidemic of fentanyl overdoes.

“Law enforcement continues to see the deadly impacts of fentanyl on South Carolina families,” Keel told this news outlet back in October. “New legislation that holds violent traffickers accountable is needed to curb the increasing flow of fentanyl into communities across the state.”



Mark Powell (Provided)

J. Mark Powell is an award-winning former TV journalist, government communications veteran, and a political consultant. He is also an author and an avid Civil War enthusiast. Got a tip or a story idea for Mark? Email him at



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