Pubdate: Fri, 20 Dec 2002
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2002 The State
Author: Lora Hines, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Key Figure In Federal Case Shot Outside Apartments In Richland County

A Columbia cocaine kingpin, whose wiretapped phone calls helped the FBI 
crush one of the state's largest drug rings earlier this year, was shot to 
death Wednesday night.

Hubert "Corey" Williams, whose age and address weren't immediately 
available, was fatally wounded in the chest, said Richland County Coroner 
Gary Watts. He died about 8:40 p.m. at Palmetto Health Richland hospital.

Williams was standing near his car about 8 p.m. at St. Andrews Woods 
apartments when he was shot. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said 
deputies have few leads.

Lott declined to discuss Williams' charges or any motive for the shooting. 
FBI spokesman Tom O'Neill also declined comment.

Williams and other defendants were scheduled for a federal court hearing 
Thursday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Schools declined to discuss whether 
Williams was cooperating with prosecutors.

It's too soon to know whether Williams' death will affect the case. The 
defendants could face trial in March.

Williams was one of 37 people indicted in a drug ring with connections to 
the R&B group TLC, according to FBI agent testimony.

FBI agents learned how the ring worked by listening to Williams' calls, 
taping as many as 20 drug transactions from 30 calls.

Williams was out on bail, but the others in the ring are fugitives.

The key drug boss -- John Kenneth Williams, 51 -- is an uncle to Corey 
Williams, who police think is 34, and his brother James, officials said.

James Williams, 31, is the boyfriend of Raina Lopes of Stone Mountain, Ga., 
agents said.

Lopes' sister, Lisa, had been a member the Atlanta-based group TLC. Lisa 
"Left Eye" Lopes died April 26 in a crash while on vacation in Honduras. 
Raina Lopes has not been charged.

James Williams once told agents he would lead them to his uncle and other 
ringleaders for a lesser sentence. Instead, he fled.

The Columbia ring -- one of the state's biggest in a decade -- used 
regional airstrips to bring in as much as 100 kilos a week over eight years 
from Mexico, Honduras and California, authorities said. At its peak, the 
ring imported about $250,000 in cocaine weekly.

If not for the wiretaps, investigators would have known about only three 
suspects, officials said. An undercover Richland County detective 
penetrated the ring and arranged buys.

The Columbia cocaine operation dates to 1992, but John Williams took it 
over in 1994, agent said.
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