Drug unit nabs out-of-state heroin traffickers

Published 10:19 pm Friday, October 14, 2016

As Hurricane Matthew barreled up the East Coast last week, investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office drug unit were preparing to make the largest heroin bust in recent county history.

On Oct. 7, 56 grams of heroin and 98 grams of cocaine were seized as investigators arrested three men: Archie Minor, 34, of 1661 Idalia Road, Aurora; Derrick Ford, 40, of Millwood Road, Sumter, South Carolina; and Carlos Cuello, 45, of S.W. 36 Court, West Park, Hollywood, Florida.

“Our main goal when we’re out investigating is: what’s the source?” said Lt. Russell Davenport, head of the drug unit. “We found the source. … That’s our goal. We want to stop the flow of narcotics into our county — especially heroin.”

Davenport said that during an ongoing investigation in the Aurora area, the drug unit learned that the majority of Beaufort County’s heroin supply was coming from out of state. The drug unit made purchases of heroin from Minor and received information that Minor was meeting with Ford and Cuello in Chocowinity to buy the supply, Davenport said.

“Of course, we have to arrest the user. And then through our surveillance, we try to see who they buy from, then find out who they buy from. We work our way up,” Davenport said.

Once Ford and Cuello were identified as suspected traffickers, investigators reached out to law enforcement in Ford’s home state.

“They were working with us on the investigation, letting us know when Derrick was home or out of town, headed back this way,” Davenport said of Sumter County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina.

When Minor met Ford and Cuello in Chocowinity, investigators stopped the vehicle the three men were in and conducted a search. According to a press release, they found an estimated street value of $12,600 worth of heroin, $14,700 worth of cocaine and $1,110 in U.S. currency.

All three men were held at the Beaufort County Detention Center under $2 million bonds.

According to state law, the charge of Level III Trafficking in Heroin is punishable by a minimum mandatory active prison sentence of 225 months; Level I Trafficking in Cocaine, 35 months.

All three men have previously been incarcerated in federal prisons; Minor was released in March of this year, Davenport said.

For the drug unit, the arrest of traffickers means more than slowing down the illegal drug business in the county.

“It means it shows our efforts to show you the war on drugs — we’re definitely winning. The resources and supplies we are using are paying off,” Davenport said. “That’s our goal: to stop the flow. … If you want some heroin, you’re going to have to go to another county.”