'We're coming for you' -- Operation Gunsmoke nets 26 federal indictments in gang-related crime dragnet

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

Operation Gunsmoke had law enforcement officials unseal 26 indictments in a gang-related weapons case in the CSRA.

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Today was a big win for not only law enforcement but our communities. Those being indicted are between 20-56 years-old. They're facing felony charges from drug trafficking to illegally selling firearms.

“We're sending the message, very clearly that we will not tolerate this violence,” said Lance Crick, the first assistant district attorney for South Carolina.

One of the largest operations in the CSRA is cracking down on gang violence. Agencies were spotted at 2 homes in South Carolina to make arrests, some police say they are linked to the street gang, the bloods.

“This is only the beginning, the continuation to improve our entire community,” said Sheriff Roundtree.

More than 150 local, state and federal agents and officers are working together.

"It doesn't matter if you cross the border, we are willing to work together to stop this unnecessary violence going on in both our states,” said Natalie Paine.

They have 26 federal indictments. The 9 people in Georgia have been arrested and they are working to get 17 people in South Carolina in custody.

“Doesn't mean there won't be more arrests, we're coming for you again,” said Chief John C. Thomas, with the NADPS.

The message is simple, they'll stop when the violence stops.

“ATF is committed to partner with agencies, months, years, whatever it takes to make sure this community is safer,” said a representative with ATF.

ATF says they are arresting some of the most violent criminals in our area and they're not hiding that they're out there looking.

U.S Attorney Bobby Christine says they'll find them, arrest them and shut them down.


AIKEN COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- "We're coming for you."

That was the word from state, federal, and local law enforcement officials Tuesday as they announced 26 unsealed federal indictments for gang-related crimes in a two-state dragnet. Those 26 indictments, officials said, were merely the tip of the iceberg and more arrests are planned.

"There will definitely be more arrests," one official said. "If we didn't get you today, we're coming for you again."

The 9 defendants charge in Georgia are:


  • George Edward Powell, 51, of Blythe, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, and multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and Distribution of Methamphetamine;

  • Keldrick Demonta Streetman, 36, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Distribution of Cocaine and Distribution of Methamphetamine;

  • Jermarce Antonio Smith, 32, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Distribution of Methamphetamine;

  • Brandon Jermal Jenkins, 29, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Distribution of Methamphetamine;

  • Carl Walker, 56, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, and multiple counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;

  • Gwendolyn Johnson-Hill, 53, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and Distribution of Methamphetamine;

  • John Willie Powell, 39, of Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and multiple counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine;

  • Ziquane Sandford, 21, of Hephzibah, charged with Conspiracy to Engage in the Business of Dealing in Firearms Without a License, False Statements in Acquisition of Firearms, Engaging in the Business of Dealing in Firearms Without a License, Possession of an Unregistered Short-Barreled Shotgun, and False Statements Concerning Information Kept by Firearms Dealer; and,

  • Jacquetta Yarbray, 23, of Hephzibah, charged with Conspiracy to Engage in the Business of Dealing in Firearms Without a License, False Statements in Acquisition of Firearms, and False Statements Concerning Information Kept by Firearms Dealer.


The 17 defendants charged in South Carolina are:

  • Ronald Gartrell, a/k/a “RJ,” 33, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, multiple counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;

  • Heather Collins, 42, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, and multiple counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine and Crack Cocaine;

  • Cornelious F. McKie, 42, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine;

  • Reihn Dracon Jennings, a/k/a “Red,” 28, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, Distribution of Crack Cocaine, multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime;

  • Christopher Johnson, a/k/a “Crip,” 32, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, Distribution of Crack Cocaine, and multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;

  • Quinton De’Shaun White, a/k/a “Q,” 29, of North Augusta, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, Distribution of Methamphetamine, and Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime;

  • Kevin D. Sheppard, a/k/a “Bean O”, 35, of Jackson, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Methamphetamine, multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;

  • Benjamin Roper, 42, of Aiken, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;

  • Jerome Morris Simmons, 38, of Aiken, charged with Distribution of Cocaine, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;

  • Antonio Maurice Scrivens, a/k/a “Bucko,” 34, of Aiken, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;

  • Keith Williams, 29, of Beech Island, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Distribution of Methamphetamine, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;

  • Larry Thomas, 20, of Aiken, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine, Distribution of Methamphetamine, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and In Relation to and In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;

  • Charlie Edward Carter, 31, of Beech Island, charged with Distribution of Methamphetamine, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Dealing in Firearms without a License;

  • Rudolph Keith Scott, 27, of Beech Island, charged with Distribution of Methamphetamine;

  • Ray Hampton Baughman, 48, of New Ellenton, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon;

  • Xavier Mathaney, 26, of Aiken, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and

  • Rashad Lundy, 27, of Aiken, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

The 2:30 p.m. news conference brought together sheriffs, federal agents, and state attorneys from Georgia and South Carolina to discuss the operation that targeted several neighborhoods in the area over the past few days. On Tuesday, several of those neighborhoods were part of the raids.

But the message from law enforcement was clear: the violence has to stop and will stop by any means necessary.

"This is a message from our community that they're tired of the violence," Charles Baranco from the Aiken Department of Public Safety said. "This is for them."

"Most important, it doesn't matter if you cross the border, we are willing to work together to stop this unnecessary violence going on in both our states," district attorney Natalie Paine said.

"We will not tolerate illegal enterprises -- street gangs and drug distribution networks," U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine said. "We will find them, arrest them, and we will shut them down."

Among the targets in this dragnet included some of the most violent people in the area, officials said.

In all, over 150 law enforcement officials worked to bring in suspects related to a case involving the Bloods street gang in Aiken County that spilled into Richmond and Burke counties.

The operation focused on purging the CSRA of illegal weapons and drugs.

The investigation is ongoing.