Crime & Courts

‘Las Señoritas’ Investigation Leads to Guilty Pleas in South Carolina

South Carolina attorney general announces 14 guilty pleas in ongoing drug trafficking case …

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South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson announced this week that a breakthrough in the statewide grand jury’s ongoing investigation of a drug trafficking organization called “Las Señoritas,” led to guilty pleas from 14 defendants.

According to investigators, the female defendants – who fled to Mexico to escape prosecution in South Carolina — were known as the “Señoritas,” and inmates in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) coordinated the delivery of methamphetamine from Mexico to a distributor in the Palmetto Upstate.

“The investigation revealed that many of the drug dealers receiving methamphetamine from the “Señoritas” organization were selling as much as 10 kilograms a week,” said Wilson.

This follows law enforcement’s seizure of over 27 kilograms of methamphetamine (street value of approximately $800,000) and 39 guns between February 1, 2021 to September 6, 2023

“Methamphetamine is poison – period – and people who bring it to and sell it in South Carolina will be held accountable,” said Wilson. “If you’re a Mexican drug cartel or a local dealer and you’re spreading this poison or other drugs in our communties, then we’re coming for you.”

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Among those entering pleas were drug sellers Angela Nicole Welbourn and her accomplice Taylor Suzanne Oates, from whom law enforcement seized nearly five kilograms of methamphetamine out of an AirBnB the two women had rented in Greenville.

The State Grand Jury partnered with the Attorney General’s State Grand Jury Division, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the South Carolina Department of Corrections’ Office of the Inspector General, the Greenville County Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit, the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor’s office, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, Easley Police Department, Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office, and the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

Among the 43 members indicted, here’s a full list of the fourteen who pleaded guilty …

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Harlie Danielle Willford pleaded guilty on November 30, 2023 and was sentenced to 20 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy) and Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering).
  • Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Count 32–Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Count 33-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, and Count 34- Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.
  • Oconee 2022-GS-47-17: Count 1-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams and Count 2-Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.

Melissa Hope Finley pleaded guilty on November 30, 2023 and was sentenced to 17 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1- Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy) and Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering).
  • Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Count 19–Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Count 23–Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Value $10K or More, Count 24–Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, and Count 25-Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.

Angela Nicole Wellborn pleaded on November 30, 2023 and was sentenced to 17 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1- Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy) and Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering).
  • Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Count 17-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams.

Taylor Suzanne Oates pleaded guilty on November 30, 2023 and was sentenced to 16 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1- Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy) and Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering). Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Count 17-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams and Count 18-Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime

Heather Marie Griffin pleaded guilty on February 1, 2024 and was sentenced to 12 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1- Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy). Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Count 16-Trafficking Methamphetamine 28-100 Grams.

Arther Shane Mashburn pleaded guilty on February 1, 2024 and was sentenced to 18 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy) and Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering).
  • Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Count 35-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Count 37-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28-100 Grams and Counts 38-39-Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime. Anderson 2022-GS-47-20: Count 16-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams and Count 17-Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.

Travis Matthew Bentley pleaded guilty on February 2, 2024 and was sentenced to 20 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy) and Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering). Anderson 2022-GS-47-20: Count 1-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams and Count 3-Possession with Intent to Distribute Narcotic Drugs in Schedule II (Fentanyl).

Monica Denise Bearden pleaded guilty on February 1, 2024 and was sentenced to 17 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy) and Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering).
  • Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Count 1–Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams.

Malary Lynn Bates pleaded guilty on February 2, 2024and was sentenced to 18 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1- Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy), Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering), Count 5-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Count 6-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Count 7-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams and Counts 10-Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.

Stacy Lynn Brooks pleaded guilty on February 2, 2024 and was sentenced to 20 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1- Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy). Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Count 2 –Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Count 3–Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime, Count 4–Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Counts 5-8– Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime, Count 42-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, but Less Than 100 Grams and Count 43-Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.

Heather Michelle Hamilton pleaded guilty on February 1, 2024 and was sentenced to 25 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1- Trafficking Methamphetamine, 400 Grams or More (Conspiracy).
  • Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Count 14-Trafficking Methamphetamine 28-100 Grams.

Wade Douglas Watkins pleaded guilty on May 16, 2024 and was sentenced to 19 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy) and Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering).

Randall Jason Simmons pleaded guilty on May 16, 2024 and was sentenced to 19 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy), Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering), Count 34-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Count 35-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Count 36-Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime and Count 37-Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime. Greenville 2022-GS-47-19: Failure to Stop for Blue Light, 2nd or Subsequent Offense.

Kasey Leigh Rasberry pleaded guilty on May 22, 2024 and was sentenced to 20 years on the following charges:

  • Pickens 2022-GS-47-16: Count 1-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams (Conspiracy), Count 2-Financial Transaction Involving Property Derived From Unlawful Drug Activity (Money Laundering), Count 24-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams, Count 26-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More, But Less Than 100 Grams and Count 27-Trafficking Methamphetamine, 28 Grams or More But Less Than 100 Grams.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Erin Parrott (Provided)

Erin Parrott is a Greenville, S.C. native who graduated from J. L. Mann High School in 2021. She is currently a rising senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in broadcast journalism. Got feedback or a tip for Erin? Email her here.

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