By Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Federal authorities announced charges on Tuesday against 17 people accused of being a part of a drug trafficking organization in South Carolina.

The announcement was made after a two-year investigation in the Lexington area resulted in the seizure of approximately 77 pounds (35 kilograms) of meth, more than 100 guns and various amounts of heroin and fentanyl, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina said in a news release.

Federal authorities said the case identified Alecia Youngblood and Matthew Ward of Lexington as “key methamphetamine suppliers” in the area. Prosecutors said Ward, 36, was found to be the leader of the trafficking organization, which is accused of moving drugs across state lines and dealing unlicensed firearms.

Authorities used confidential informants and other means to identify and arrest the other suspects accused of being members of the group.

It was not clear if Ward and Youngblood had an attorney who could comment.

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