Aiken County woman helped S.C. inmate peddle drugs

Sep. 14—Working on behalf of a man sitting in a South Carolina prison, an Aiken County woman delivered drugs to a Florida-based dealer on at least three occasions, prosecutors announced this week.

Evin Rae Davenport, 32, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to distribute, and possess with the intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

The inmate, 28-year-old Zachariah Ryan Luke of Aiken, entered a guilty plea to the same count Aug. 16. Sentencing dates have not been set, but each faces a sentence of at least 10 years.

While incarcerated at Wateree River Correctional, a medium-security prison in Sumter County, Luke used a contraband cellphone on Nov. 24, 2021 to coordinate with Davenport and the Florida drug dealer for a deal involving nearly a kilogram of meth, prosecutors said in a media release.

Davenport and the dealer met outside a South Carolina department store — the third such delivery authorities said she made — before the dealer headed back to Florida.

That’s when everything began to unravel.

A deputy saw that dealer commit a traffic offense in St. Augustine, Florida, and tried to initiate a traffic stop, the release said, but instead, the driver raced down residential streets. Someone in a helicopter assisting the pursuit saw the driver throw something out the window that authorities later determined was a backpack containing 985.6 grams of pure meth.

The driver abandoned his car at a dead end and fled into the woods, where deputies caught him.

Back at Wateree, corrections officers searched Luke’s cell and uncovered a number of phones, turning up text messages that included the times and locations of drug exchanges and the people involved — including Davenport.

Authorities have detailed a number of schemes tied to contraband cellphones, many thought to be obtained through drones. In one such instance, prosecutors said members of the Insane Gangster Disciples coordinated beatings, kidnappings and murders from prison in a bid to maintain their $50 million-a-year drug trafficking operation. In another, investigators alleged nine men incarcerated in South Carolina orchestrated nearly $5 million in coronavirus unemployment relief fraud.

This has led the South Carolina Department of Corrections, one of the agencies involved in this case, and state officials to ask the FCC for approval to jam contraband cellphones.

Other agencies that assisted in this investigation were the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, Aiken Department of Public Safety, North Augusta Department of Public Safety.

The deliveries occurred while Davenport, who had a Belvedere address, was out on bond awaiting trial on several drug trafficking counts in Aiken County, according to court records. Davenport has since pleaded guilty to two trafficking counts and another drug charge, and she is serving a 25-year state sentence. Her anticipated release date is in 2044 and she’s not eligible for parole.

Luke, whose projected release date on state charges is in 2026, was arrested in 2019 after leading deputies on a chase in a stolen car through portions of Aiken and Edgefield counties. When he was captured, he had an AK-47 and meth.

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