Crime & Courts

‘Cowboys’ Among Those Arrested In South Carolina Drug Sting

When are the feds going to move against the suppliers, though?

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Prosecutors in the office of U.S. attorney Adair Ford Boroughs announced federal charges against more than a dozen defendants in connection with a Lowcountry, South Carolina drug ring this week.

Several of those indicted on Friday (March 22, 2024) were members of the Walterboro, S.C.-based “Cowboys” gang – a criminal organization with ties to a drug network which once involved Alex Murdaugh, the former solicitor/ disgraced lawyer/ convicted killer whose true crime and corruption saga captivated global audiences.

The Cowboys first made news in the fall of 2021 and made a brief reappearance in the summer of 2022 when prosecutors in the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson accused two alleged members of the gang of being “downstream beneficiaries” of Murdaugh’s alleged theft from his clients, friends, and former law partners.

Murdaugh’s larger drug connections have yet to be fully unearthed …

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Cowboys often post “threats, firearms, large amounts of cash, and what (are) purported to be narcotics on Facebook and YouTube.” And according to our sources in Walterboro, they remain very much active in the drug trade throughout the Palmetto Lowcountry.

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The latest arrests were part of “a targeted violent crime reduction initiative in Walterboro and surrounding areas,” one involving local and state law enforcement assets as well as agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This “advanced, intelligence-based, multi-faceted” investigation targeted “criminal entities, specifically those engaged in the illegal possession and distribution of narcotics, as well as the unlawful possession and use of firearms,” according to a news release from Boroughs’ office.

All told, the sting netted at least eighteen kilograms of cocaine, 500 grams of cocaine base, 1,400 grams of methamphetamine and 560 grams of fentanyl – along with “multiple firearms and ammunition.” Unenumerated quantities of heroin, ecstasy and other drugs were also seized.

Here is a list of the defendants charged on Friday:

  • Trevor Courtney Fishburne, Jr., 34 of Walterboro, was charged with conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, 400 grams or more of fentanyl and a quantity of MDMA. Fishburne is currently serving a sentence for armed robbery, assault and battery with intent to kill and weapons offense in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. 
  • Zaquann Ernest Hampton, 30, of Walterboro, was charged with conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, 500 grams or more of cocaine, 500 grams or more of cocaine base, 40 grams or more of fentanyl, a quantity of heroin and a quantity of MDMA.  Additionally, Hampton is charged with multiple counts of distribution of methamphetamine; one count of possession with intent to distribute quantities of cocaine, cocaine base, and fentanyl; two counts of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and one count of possession of firearms by a prohibited person.  
  • Jaziah Samone Dresha Lewis, 27, of St. George, was charged with conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, 500 grams or more of cocaine and 40 grams or more of fentanyl. Additionally, Lewis was charged with one count of possessing with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and a separate additional count of possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine. 
  • Jamie Brown, 50, of Yemassee, was charged with conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, a quantity of cocaine base and a quantity of fentanyl. Additionally, Brown is charged with possessing with intent to distribute quantities of cocaine, cocaine base and fentanyl, possession of firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possession of firearms by a prohibited person.  
  • Stephanie Hawkins, 37, of Summerville, was charged with conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and 40 grams or more of fentanyl.  Additionally, Hawkins was charged with one count of possessing with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
  • Oshalum Grant, 27, of Walterboro, was charged with conspiring to distribute a quantity of cocaine. Additionally, Grant was charged with one count of possession of ammunition by a prohibited person.
  • Matthew Rashaun Jones, 30, of Walterboro, was charged with conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and quantities of cocaine, cocaine base, MDMA and fentanyl. Additionally, Jones was charged with possessing with intent to distribute quantities of cocaine, cocaine base and fentanyl; possession of firearms by a prohibited person; and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
  • Brianna Alnisa Lawrence, 28, of Walterboro, was charged with conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and a quantity of cocaine.  Additionally, Lawrence was charged with distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and transfer of ammunition to a prohibited person.
  • Rashawn Lymel Brown, 29, of Summerville, was charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and 500 grams or more of cocaine.  Additionally, Brown was charged with two counts of distribution of cocaine; two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; one count of possessing with intent to distribute marijuana; and one count of possession of a short-barreled rifle.
  • Brittaney Smith, 28, of Walterboro, was charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.
  • James Joseph Young, III, 30, of Summerville, was charged with conspiring to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  Additionally, Young was charged with three counts of distribution of cocaine.  
  • Wanda Catrece Fishburne, 50, of Yemassee, was charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and quantities of fentanyl and cocaine base.  Additionally, Fishburne was charged with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl, cocaine base and cocaine; possession of a firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possession of firearms by a prohibited person.  
  • Jaden Tyrone Smith, 23, of Walterboro, was charged with conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.  
  • Richard Vernon Deas, 25, of Charleston, was charged with conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and 40 grams or more of fentanyl.  Deas is currently serving a sentence for murder in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. 

As with anyone accused of committing any crime, the above-named defendants are each considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as they may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any of the charges filed against them.

In addition to the FBI, the case against these defendants was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States Secret Service, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC), the S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor’s office, the Colleton County sheriff’s office, Dorchester County sheriff’s office, Charleston County sheriff’s office, Florence County sheriff’s office, Marion County sheriff’s office, Charleston police department, North Charleston police department, Mount Pleasant police department, Summerville police department and the S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP). Assistant U.S. attorneys Carra Henderson and Nick Bianchi are prosecuting the case.

The involvement of Henderson – who previously worked out of the fourteenth circuit solicitor’s office – has raised questions considering her father, Danny Henderson, was one of Alex Murdaugh’s longtime law partners.

The bigger question?

“Where are the Cowboys getting their drugs?” one Lowcountry investigator told us. “That’s where they need to be looking. They keep re-arresting the same people over and over again – and those people keep getting released over and over again. But they never bust the suppliers.”

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THE INDICTMENTS …

(U.S. Attorney’s Office)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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2 comments

Thomas O'Brien Top fan March 22, 2024 at 11:12 pm

I have NO DOUBT that Duffie Stone and PJ Tanner Protected this Gang of “Cowboys”!!! Duffie being the Solicitor of Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Allendale Counties Knew All about their Activities!! Can you say PAY OFFS!!!!

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VERITAS Top fan March 25, 2024 at 10:35 pm

I remember someone testifying in court that he delivered packages of what sounded like pills from the office Richard A. Murdaugh at PiMPED Let’s publish all the names of the South Carolina judges who have been lenient with violent offenders and drug dealers. Let’s cross-check the lawyer-legislators who have worked with those same judges to get their clients off.

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