Seven Defendants Arrested in Joint State/Federal Investigation into Myrtle Beach Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA- Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett Dehart announced today that a joint team of dozens of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), arrested seven individuals who have been indicted in federal court and face charges related to an interstate drug trafficking organization that operated out of Myrtle Beach and Kingstree.

The investigation specifically targeted members of this drug trafficking organization based on sales of large quantities of dangerous drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and crack cocaine, and use of firearms in furtherance of their drug trafficking crimes. 

The following defendants were arrested today and charged in a recently unsealed federal indictment:

Leroy Junior Cunningham, a/k/a “Black,” a/k/a “Chris,” 45, of Myrtle Beach, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 100 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, and 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, Schedule II controlled substances.  This charge carries a potential penalty of 10 years to Life imprisonment.

Tyrone Brown, a/k/a “Chief,” 46, of Myrtle Beach, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 100 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, and 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, Schedule II controlled substances. This charge carries a potential penalty of 10 years to Life imprisonment.

Alex Letroy GLover, 41, of Conway, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 100 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, and 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance. This charge carries a potential penalty of 5 to 40 years imprisonment.

Tonya Grant Mitchell, 45, of Andrews, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance.  This charge carries a potential penalty of 5 to 40 years imprisonment.

Derrick Lee Cunningham, a/k/a “Ruby Tuby,” 43, of Myrtle Beach, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute a quantity of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and a quantity of cocaine, Schedule II controlled substances.  This charge carries a potential penalty of 5 to 40 years imprisonment.

Cameron John Kazimierczak, a/k/a “Cam,” 30, of Myrtle Beach, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute a quantity of methamphetamine and a quantity of cocaine, Schedule II controlled substances.  This charge carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.

Marlin Carlos McKnight, a/k/a “Martin Carlos McKnight,” 46, of Goose Creek, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a quantity of cocaine base (commonly referred to as “crack cocaine”), and a quantity of cocaine, Schedule II controlled substances.  This charge carries a potential penalty of 5 to 40 years imprisonment.

Three defendants are still at large, including Jamel Rashad Small, 32, of Myrtle Beach.  Charges against the two other defendants remain sealed at this time. 

This investigation is the latest in a series of joint state/federal operations aimed at curbing violent crime and drug overdoses in the Myrtle Beach area.  In 2020 and 2021, Operation New Optix resulted in drug charges against 34 defendants, 22 of whom have pled guilty to date.  In 2017, Operation Silver Sunset targeted 29 associates of a violent.  In 2018, Operation Rise and Shine targeted 33 associates of a related gang.  In 2020, Operation Broken Branch targeted 31 members of a drug trafficking organization in the Cedar Branch area of Horry County. 

Agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Florence Resident Office quarterbacked this investigation with significant participation from the following agencies: Myrtle Beach Police Department, Horry County Police Department, North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety, Florence County Sheriff’s Office, Horry County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), United States Marshals Service, and the Kingstree Police Department. 

These arrests are a direct result of the dedicated efforts between DEA and its law enforcement partners,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Robert J. Murphy.  “Heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and crack are dangerous drugs that pose a clear and present danger to any community.  The Myrtle Beach area is safer today because these poly-drug traffickers have been removed from the streets.”

“The United States Attorney’s Office continues to vigorously prosecute major drug trafficking organizations, and the charges here speak to those efforts,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart.  “I want to thank all our federal and local partners for the countless hours they have spent working to dismantle these organizations across the Myrtle Beach area.  They continue to put themselves in harm’s way to make our communities safer.”

“Today is another example of what can be accomplished using the outstanding partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement,” said Chief Amy Prock of the Myrtle Beach Police Department.  “The dedication displayed by these officers and agents, along with the support we receive from our community members, shows the continued commitment we all have in addressing the behaviors of those who wish to cause harm in our community.”

Special Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Waller who works jointly with the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office and Assistant United States Attorney Everett McMillian, Lead Task Force Attorney for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), are prosecuting the case. 

OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart stated that all charges against these defendants are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.