Chances are you may know someone who's been swept into a recent drug trafficking bust in Lancaster County. Sixty-one people have been charged with 177 offenses related to drug distribution in the county off of I-77, just south of Charlotte and the North Carolina border. Among the charges are trafficking in marijuana, trafficking in cocaine, distributing marijuana and cocaine and weapons offenses.
Authorities confiscated drugs, weapons and cash in the bust, with a total value nearing $70,000.
Operation Stamp Out spanned a full year as law enforcement officers in the I-77 corridor investigated potential leads on drug distribution rings in the area. Investigators involved in the undercover drug operation said the goal was to target large distribution chains and those higher up in the drug rings in the county.
Drug trafficking can be charged as either a state or federal criminal drug offense. Operation Stamp Out sounds like it was a local operation; reports have not indicated that federal agents were involved. Nevertheless, the proximity of Lancaster County to the North Carolina - South Carolina border may mean that charges in the case could be brought at the federal level. Once drugs cross state lines, the crime can be charged as a federal drug offense.
A conviction on a drug trafficking offense will trigger mandatory minimum sentencing in North Carolina federal and state courts. The fact that weapons were also seized during this large drug bust also makes it likely that those involved will see enhanced sentences related to the possession of a firearm during the commission of a drug crime if convicted.
Source: WSOCTV, "61 charged in year-long Lancaster Co. drug investigation," January 24, 2014