South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced today that the South Carolina State Grand Jury has issued indictments in the drug trafficking case known as “Los Banditos”. The indictments currently unsealed in the investigation collectively contain 124 charges against 34 defendants.
The investigation alleges much of the drug trafficking was run and facilitated by the owners of the Los Primos restaurant located in Greenville, South Carolina. The drugs were allegedly trafficked throughout the State of South Carolina, but mostly in the Upstate. Many of the drugs were allegedly trafficked right out of the restaurant, while more were allegedly trafficked out of taco trucks owned by the owners of the restaurant. This restaurant would eventually serve as a regional hub through which cocaine and methamphetamine were allegedly trafficked to other states. The investigation revealed alleged connections to Mexican drug trafficking cartels operating in South Carolina and Georgia.
To date, the Los Banditos investigation has seized in South Carolina almost 11 kilograms (24 pounds) of methamphetamine, 584 grams (1,287 pounds) of cocaine, approximately $63,000 in cash, and over 20 firearms. The investigation has revealed the conspiracy has historically accounted for over 1000 kilograms (more than one ton) of methamphetamine, 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of cocaine, and 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of heroin trafficked throughout the State of South Carolina. Additionally, information gathered in the Los Banditos State Grand Jury investigation led to the seizure by Georgia and federal authorities from several apartments and stash houses in Atlanta of approximately 200 kilos (441 pounds) of methamphetamine, 3.5 kilos (7.7 pounds) of cocaine, 3.2 kilos (7 pounds) of heroin, 5 ounces of cocaine mixed with fentanyl, 183 pounds of Marijuana, 900 Xanax pills, and multiple firearms. A substantial portion of those seized drugs were allegedly intended for South Carolina.
Bond hearings for some of the defendants occurred on Monday, May 16, 2022, before the Honorable Alison Renee Lee in her virtual courtroom.
“The Attorney General’s Office and SLED are committed to fight the corrosive effect drug trafficking has on our communities,” Attorney General Alan Wilson said. “This investigation is yet another example of aggressive use of the State Grand Jury and investigative techniques to combat gangs and drug trafficking. Just as important, it is a further example of our use of the State Grand Jury to partner state prosecutorial and law enforcement resources with county, local, and federal agencies,” he added. “The cooperation with our Upstate partners – both local and federal – was particularly successful in this case, and this Office looks forward to continuing to synch its efforts with the hard work and expertise of all the agencies involved”. Attorney General Wilson thanked all the agencies involved in the case.
Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins stated, “This was a very large scale organized drug operation that allegedly was trafficking kilograms of drugs every week into Greenville County. The hard work and dedication of the Greenville Drug Enforcement Unit, SLED, and the South Carolina State Grand Jury has significantly decreased the availability of drugs in the Greenville Community and arrested some of its worst drug dealers. While this organization has ties from Mexico to numerous cities in the United States, its drug trafficking efforts and locations in Greenville County were continuing to pump poison directly into our communities. This is a great win for the citizens of Greenville County and these numerous arrests will have an immediate and direct impact upon the citizens of Greenville County and neighboring Counties.”
The case was investigated by the South Carolina State Grand Jury, which was assisted in this case by a partnership of the Attorney General’s State Grand Jury Division, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the Greenville County Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit, United States Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, the Easley Police Department, and the South Carolina National Guard Counterdrug Task Force.
Separate narcotics investigations by the Greenville County DEU and ATF ultimately were merged under the umbrella of the State Grand Jury with the involvement of SLED, HSI, and the other agencies. HSI provided much of the funding and manpower to carry out this State Grand Jury investigation. The cases will be prosecuted by the State Grand Jury Section of the Attorney General’s Office and the Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
Attorney General Wilson and Solicitor Wilkins stressed that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.