Pubdate: Mon, 12 Aug 2002
Source: Times and Democrat, The (SC)
Contact:  2002, The Times and Democrat
Author: Stephanie Pietrowski, T&D Correspondent
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


ST. GEORGE -- A special Dorchester County Sheriff's Department team of 
deputies has been saturating the upper county in the last few weeks 
searching for drug activity.

Several violent, drug-related crimes in the upper county, along with tips 
from residents on suspected criminal activity, have kept the men busy in 
the Reevesville, Holly Hill, Shady Grove and Utsey Hill areas this week.

Maj. Tim Stephenson is head of the aggressive patrol unit. He said his team 
may use marked or unmarked vehicles, along with drug dogs, to target drug 
activity in the county's rural areas. Stephenson said that any arrest of 
drug traffickers takes them off the street for a short period of time, but 
more importantly adds to their arrest record.

"Simple possession of marijuana for a first offense doesn't draw a major 
fine or jail time," he said. "But, even a second offense is much more 
serious. It all adds up. If you're carrying drugs in Dorchester County, 
then understand that you can be arrested and jailed at any time."

The unit recently arrested seven men in Reevesville on a variety of drug 
and liquor charges.

Dorchester County Sheriff Ray Nash assembled the team from deputies in the 
narcotics division and the K-9 units, and he has temporarily moved Sgt. Ed 
Pumphrey from the Summerville area to the upper county to assist and 
supervise the aggressive drug patrol.

The team of Pumphrey, PFCs R. Botten, Shawn Gibbons and Mike Caudle, along 
with Stephenson, has extensive drug interdiction and narcotics training. 
They will be conducting the zero drug tolerance patrols for the next 
several months.

The Dorchester County Sheriff's ICE (Interstate Criminal Enforcement) Team 
has also been busy patrolling the interstates and continues to confiscate 
drugs and drug money along I-95 and I-26. The ICE Team and the upper county 
drug patrols will be doing some combined projects in the coming months.

Stephenson said the squad has been conducting several types of operations 
in the upper county, and he's seen that it's already made a "huge impact" 
on local drug trafficking.

"We're just getting started up here," he said. "There's going to be a lot 
more to come."

Citizens can report suspicious behavior directly to the team in St. George 
at 843-563-0307. The Sheriff's Department wants residents to be its eyes 
and ears to help alert deputies to possible criminal activity.
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