Special to The Union Times
UNION COUNTY & SPARTANBURG COUNTY — Eight people — one of whom is whom is already in prison — are facing charges for allegedly smuggling contraband ranging from cell phones to methamphetamine into the Tyger River Correctional Institution in Spartanburg County.
In a statement released this afternoon, Union County Sheriff David Taylor announced the arrests of the following individuals on the charge of attempting to furnish contraband to a state prisoner.
— Tuesday Nicole Hill, 41, 100 Morris Circle, Union
— Allen Fitzgerald Robinson, 40, 514 Foster Street, Union
— Edward Alan Hudson, 29, 101 Hicks Street, Union
— Jeffrey Tyler Gregory, 29, 319 Fire Lane, Buffalo
— Ernest Woods Jr., 37, 932 Lovers Lane Road, Union
— Nicholas Jordan Rash, 26, 1353 Monarch Highway, Union
— David Adam Liner, 29, 117 Gregory Street, Union
The press release states that an eighth person, an inmate at Tyger River Correctional Institution, will be charged by investigators from the South Carolina Department of Corrections with obtaining/possession of contraband.
In announcing the arrests, Taylor said that since April, investigators with his office have been working with investigators with the South Carolina Department of Corrections on contraband getting into the prison. Taylor said that narcotic officers with his office received information that an inmate who is from Union County and serving time at Tyger River Correctional Institution was receiving contraband. He said that investigators received information that the inmate was getting cell phones, cell phone chargers, tobacco, cigarettes, marijuana and methamphetamines while inside the prison.
Taylor said that the inmate was paying individuals in Union County $200 for each delivery which usually occurred at least twice a week. He said the inmate would send money to the individuals by using a Green Dot card and those individuals would purchase the contraband for delivery to the inmate inside the prison.
After the purchases were made, Taylor said the individuals would wrap the contraband in duct tape or stuff it inside tennis balls to be thrown over the fence at Tyger River Correctional Facility. He said the individuals from Union would drive or have someone drop them off near the facility and then make their way through the woods to a designated location. Once they knew the location, Taylor said they would throw the packages over the perimeter fence to be picked up by the inmate or his designee. He said the items would then be sold to other inmates inside the prison and payments would be made to the inmate by family members of the other inmates with a Green Dot card or by the inmates themselves inside the prison.
The press release states that on Wednesday, June 20, Taylor, along with Maj. John Sherfield and Investigator Roger Suber of his office, together with Investigators Tommy Farr, Jeff Dail, and Matt Watson of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, did surveillance on three individuals in Union County. It states that the investigators were able to determine that these subjects were going to deliver packages to Tyger River Correctional Institution around 10 p.m. that night.
The press release states that Taylor, Dail, and Watson went to Mount Lebanon Road in Union County to intercept the vehicle on its way to the prison facility while Sherfield and Suber continued surveillance of the vehicle and advised other units of its location. As the vehicle approached the intersection of Dutchman Creek Road and Mount Lebanon Road, the press release states officers made a traffic stop on the vehicle.
While searching the vehicle, the report sates that a plastic bag containing four packages wrapped in duct tape were located in the back floor board on the driver’s side where Hill was located. The press release states that there were several items of drug paraphernalia in Hill’s purse and inside the vehicle. It states that Hill and Robinson were arrested at the scene and transported to the Union County Jail.
The press release states that investigators took the packages back to a secure location and found they contained the following:
• Three smart phones
• Three smart phone chargers
• 5.5 ounces of smoking tobacco
• 10 packs of cigarettes.
The press release states that the contraband seized is worth $3,800 inside the prison system.
In addition, the press release states that investigators were able to make undercover video recordings of contraband being passed from individuals to other individuals. The press release states the suspects were given instructions to deliver the contraband to the prison for the inmate from Union County who is serving time there. It states investigators were able to collect physical evidence from individuals intending to make deliveries inside the prison.
The press release states that it was based on this evidence that Sherfield was able to sign warrants for the arrest of the persons involved in the smuggling effort.
Taylor commended the officers from the SCDC and the narcotics officers of his office for their good work on this case. He went on to say that just because a person is in prison doesn’t mean they are not still causing problems.
The case is still under investigation and Taylor said more arrests are possible.