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Drug charges dropped after agent botches evidence, affidavit

An agent for the State Law Enforcement Division in South Carolina mishandled an affidavit and evidence in a high-profile drug bust. As a result, drug charges against 16 people were rightfully dropped as any sort of a fair trial was a foregone conclusion.

The attorney general's office recently announced they would not prosecute the 16 people who were rounded up in a drug bust that was dubbed "Operation Reno 911." The bust, which centered on a large drug ring, happened about a year ago and more than 30 people were charged as a result.

Police claimed they uncovered a ring that was supplying cocaine to a number of counties in both South Carolina and Georgia. Law enforcement estimated the ring allegedly supplied those areas with roughly $30 million worth of the drug. Police allegedly confiscated $1.5 million in cash and 4.5 kilograms in cocaine during their raid along with several vehicles and firearms.

One of the agents working the case misrepresented the identification of one of the individuals in an affidavit. The attorney general's office said this same agent also failed to handle evidence properly. The attorney general admitted that people are prone to making mistakes, but he could not gauge whether the agent did these misdeeds purposefully or on accident. The agent was fired in March as a result of his behavior. The ousted agent might be subjected to additional investigations as well.

Those who saw their drug charges dropped are not completely cleared yet. The Anderson County Sheriff said he will examine each individual case to determine if they can pursue additional charges. Seventeen of the 30 individuals who were allegedly involved in the drug ring were arrested in Anderson County.

Source: WYFF-TV Channel 4, "AG: Charges dropped against 16 in major drug bust," Nov. 22, 2011

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