US Attorney for SC Sherri Lydon

U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Sherri Lydon announces the results of Operation Lowcountry Line, meant to combat drug trafficking and violent crime in the greater Charleston area, on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Lydon was joined by other federal, state and local law enforcement officials who announced that 10 individuals were charged as part of the effort. Gregory Yee/Staff

A sweeping investigation into drug and gun crime in the Charleston area has resulted in 10 people facing a litany of narcotics-related charges. 

U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Sherri Lydon was joined by a phalanx of federal, state and local law enforcement officials at North Charleston City Hall Wednesday afternoon as they announced the arrests as part of the investigation, dubbed "Operation Lowcountry Line." 

"We have drawn the line as we warn those intent on violating the rights of the citizens to be safe in their communities, that there will be consequences," Lydon said. 

Nine of the 10 defendants listed in two federal indictments were arrested and appeared in court on Wednesday she said. The 10th defendant is not yet in custody. That person's identity has not been disclosed. 

The following six defendants have been charged in the first indictment:

  • Lamar Louis Johnson, 39, faces one count each of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking. He is also suspected of possessing 11 pounds or more of cocaine.  
  • Theadore Bernard Gadsden, age unavailable, faces one count each of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, being a felon in possession of a gun and using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking. He is also suspected of possessing an unknown quantity of heroin and 17.5 ounces or more of cocaine.
  • Jaton Edwards, 29, faces one count of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, using a gun in furtherance of drug trafficking and being a felon in possession of a gun. Authorities suspect him of possessing 17.5 ounces or more of cocaine. 
  • Jarvis Behrens, 27, is accused of possessing 17.5 ounces or more of cocaine and also faces one count of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. 
  • Theodore Bernard Gadsden, 30, is suspected of possessing an unknown quantity of cocaine and also faces one count each of using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking and possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. 
  • Pierce Nelson, 28, is suspected of possessing an unknown quantity of cocaine. He also faces one count each of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, using a gun in the furtherance of drug trafficking and being a felon in possession of a gun. 

The following three defendants were charged in the second indictment: 

  • Devant Porcher, age unavailable, is suspected of possessing 3.5 ounces or more of heroin, 0.17 ounces of more of methamphetamine, 0.98 ounces or more of crack cocaine and an unknown quantity of cocaine. He also faces 13 counts related to the distribution of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and crack cocaine. 
  • Melinda Lee Lynch, 40, is suspected of possessing 0.17 ounces or more of methamphetamine. She has also been charged with possessing with intent to distribute and distributing methamphetamine and heroin. 
  • Wandesha Smalls, age unavailable, is suspected of possessing 0.17 ounces or more of methamphetamine and an unknown quantity of heroin. She also has been charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine and heroin.

During the investigation, authorities seized roughly 4.4 pounds of cocaine, 3.5 ounces of crack cocaine, 16.8 ounces of heroin, 15.4 ounces of methamphetamine and seven firearms, Lydon said. 

Don Wood, a spokesman and supervisory agent with the FBI's Columbia office, said the arrests and charges were the "first fruits" of the agency's Lowcountry violent crime task force.

"Our mission is to work in a comprehensive and unified manner to disrupt violent crime throughout the Lowcountry area," Wood said. "This is not a conclusion. (We) will continue to battle together every day to make our communities a safer and better place to live."

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Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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