Drug kingpin pleads guilty in Edgefield County kidnap scheme

Nicanor Rodriguez
Nicanor Rodriguez(WRDW)
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 1:31 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. - The kingpin of one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in South Carolina pleaded guilty to ordering the kidnapping of the daughter of a debtor in Edgefield County, in addition to a host of other charges.

Inmate Nicanor Rodriguez and a co-conspirator were able to use contraband cellphones from inside prisons to operate the organization from 2013 through 2021, according to prosecutors.

The state grand jury issued indictments in two separate investigations targeting the now inoperable drug trafficking organization, with combined totals of more than 100 defendants and 500 charges spanning numerous counties.

State Attorney General Alan Wilson said Rodriguez, the founder, supplier, and leader of the drug trafficking organization, pleaded guilty to:

  • Two counts of trafficking methamphetamine (conspiracy), 400 grams or more (Greenville County)
  • Criminal conspiracy (Edgefield County)
  • Three counts of kidnapping (Edgefield County)
  • Trafficking cocaine (conspiracy), 400 grams or more (Greenville County)
  • Trafficking methamphetamine, 200-400 grams (Lexington County)
  • Trafficking methamphetamine (conspiracy), 400 grams or more (Pickens County)
  • Trafficking heroin (conspiracy), 28 grams or more (Greenville County)

Among the allegations Rodriguez admitted was that he ordered two other co-conspirators to kidnap the 18-year-old pregnant daughter of another alleged co-conspirator who owed him a drug debt. This is alleged to have occurred Sept. 23, 2018, in Edgefield County.

Rodriguez is incarcerated until 2041 for prior drug convictions, stemming from a previous state grand jury investigation and 2007 trial.

On March 4, Judge Lawton McIntosh sentenced Rodriguez to an additional 40 years for the charges above.

Anthony Gracely, Rodriguez’s key con-conspirator within the prison and primary contact for conspirators outside of the prison, pleaded guilty to four counts of trafficking meth and one count of trafficking heroin, Wilson said. Gracely will be sentenced at a future date.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and WHNS