Local, fed officials take down Columbia gun ring

Photo Credit: Emily Pace

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Local and federal authorities announced the bust of a drug trafficking ring in Columbia Wednesday afternoon.

Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Columbia Police Department teamed up to get nine gang members off the streets, along with 20 guns, worth $15,000, from the Greenview community.

Here TMs an example of when communities ask, we respond. We have taken nine gang members off the street, says CPD Chief Randy Scott.

In March 2010, investigators started gathering information on the nine suspects.

This was furthered in large part by the cooperation of a citizen, adds Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson.

Investigators utilized a confidential informant to buy numerous firearms and ammunition from members of the group; but three months into the case, the informant was robbed.

We were there to buy guns and they actually stuck us up. These guys are some of the worse of the worst, according to ATF Special Agent Melvin King.

Police and ATF agents took the group into custody.

We are pleased to have helped the citizens of Greenview as they fight to ensure their community remains safe and civil," U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said at a press conference Wednesday. "As part of our ongoing Project CeaseFire initiative, we will continue to devote resources to removing firearms and criminals from the Greenview Community so that residents can safely raise their families and enjoy their neighborhood.

Operation CeaseFire was started in 2001 and designed to aggressively prosecute firearm cases.

This operation was a cure for a persistent illness that the Greenview community has been suffering with for quite some time," Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott added. "The suspects will not be returning to the Greenview/Northeast community to continue their criminal acts. Law abiding residents have been taking proactive measures with the Columbia Police Department to safeguard their backyards. Efforts like this crime suppression operation will continue.

The following suspects have all been sentenced to a combined more than 41 years in prison.

-Andre Moss, 22

-Anthony Brevard, 20

-Torrian Gleaton,22

-Johnathan Bailey, 21

-Antonio Keller, 22

-Allan Boyd, 19

-Travis Hayes, 21

-Dexter Clifford Savage, 24

-Cordera Hopkins, 22

Do you think this gun trafficking ring is part of a larger issue in the Midlands, or is it an isolated incident? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.