Berea, SC (FOX Carolina) - Investigators with the Greenville County Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit announced the dismantling of a large and complex heroin/fentanyl/methamphetamine pill press operation operating in Berea.
On Thursday, February 20, DEU Investigators supported by the sheriff's office directed patrol unit served a search warrant on a residence along North Oak Forest Drive in Greenville.
Investigators tell FOX Carolina that deputies seized a pill press capable of producing as much as 3,000 - 5,000 pills per hour. The pills being manufactured tested positive for heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine. We're told the suspects were producing around 400-500 pills per hour and selling them at a cost of $30-$45 per pill.
Deputies say the press showed signs of having been operated for months. Investigators determined the health risk raised to a level where assistance from the SC National Guard Civil Response Team (CRT) was asked to respond. The CRT comes with necessary equipment to measure air quality and take samples of suspicious powders to determine the level of risk to law enforcement.
According to the sheriff's office, investigators working on scene were required to wear protective suits while processing the scene. Deputies said community residents living in proximity to the residence were not in harm’s way.
Bart McEntire, the commander of the DEU, said:
“the tablets were being sold across the Greenville area. The spread of these pills trafficked across Greenville County is frightening when you think of the potential health risks to users and the sheer number of fentanyl pills being uncovered by law enforcement is alarming. The Greenville County law enforcement community takes the deadly distribution of fentanyl and methamphetamine seriously and pill forms of these dugs heightens the concern. ”
McEntire expressed great concern about the rise of "garage manufacturers", saying these people have little to no background in any avenue of chemistry or science and no regard to human life, saying their only goal was to manufacture pills for profit.
Deputies arrested and charged Latravic Bigby and Vannaren Hor, charging them both with trafficking in methamphetamine 200-400 grams and trafficking heroin over 28 grams. Additionally they both face charges of possession of cocaine, possession of a gun during commission of a violent crime, possession of a stolen gun.
“The spread of opioid based drugs and methamphetamine has accelerated at an already deadly epidemic in Greenville County,” said Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown “dangerous synthetics such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, simply put, will kill unwitting individuals. It’s critical that we get unregistered pill presses off the street and hold these bad characters responsible for pushing these illegal drugs.”