CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A man who tried to evade deputies serving a warrant led to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office’s largest seizure of pure fentanyl.
Sheriff Kristin Graziano says the seized 2.5 pounds of fentanyl powder is enough to provide a lethal dose to everyone in the city of Charleston, Charleston County, Colleton County, plus 50,000 more.
"...What you see in these bags is 50 times more potent than heroin and a hundred times stronger than morphine,” Graziano said.
On Wednesday, April 19, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office received a warrant for an apartment at 35 Folly Road Blvd at around 11:00 a.m. The suspect had jumped off his fourth story balcony before CCSO and Charleston Police officers arrived.
After obtaining a search warrant for the home, they found three firearms, more than 2.5 pounds of fentanyl, marijuana, prescription pills and other paraphernalia. About seven hours after investigators say he ran from the scene, Tyrell Javon Sistrunk was arrested when he arrived back at his apartment.
Graziano says Sistrunk has a history of violent crime, like drugs and weapons, and a history of fleeing and evading custody. She says he has been given bond each time, been rearrested and the pattern hasn’t changed.
Officials said that amount of fentanyl would be enough to kill 570,000 people.
Charleston County deputies say they have disrupted a significant drug-trafficking operation in West Ashley with the seizure of more than $170,000 worth of illicit items, including guns and large amounts of fentanyl, marijuana and prescription drugs.(Charleston County Sheriff's Office)
During Monday’s press conference, officials stressed the potency of the drug and the new mix with another drug, Xylazine, that renders typical overdose prevention drugs ineffective.
Deputies arrested Sistruck Wednesday on bench warrants later in the day after he returned to an apartment complex in the area. During a search for him, nearby Porter Gaud School initiated lockdown procedures as a precaution, Knapp said.
Charleston Center Director Dr. Chanda Funcell said overdoses in Charleston County have increased 25% from last year and show signs of increasing further.
Charleston County Coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal put numbers to the increased overdoses.
“In 2021 we had 183 drug overdoses in Charleston County, most of those related to fentanyl and in 2022 that number skyrocketed to 240,” O’Neal said. “We are on target for 2023 to beat that number again, which is not something we should be proud of.”
O’Neal said her office currently has 47 drug overdose cases that are positive for fentanyl and 50 pending testing.
Nanci Shipman, founder and executive director of WakeUp Carolina, an addiction and recovery advocacy group, added on.
“I can’t say how crucial this arrest was because it saved so many lives,” Shipman said. “It’s one less family that has to go through the grief process and it’s one less individual that is able to -- that can live.”
Funcell emphasized the need for a multi-pronged approach, including seizure efforts, prevention, harm reduction, awareness, and treatment.
Officials also stressed the importance of Narcan and its availability for those who know someone suffering from addiction.
“The goal of Narcan is to keep them from becoming a coroner’s case,” O’Neal said.
Tyrell Javon Sistrunk, 27, faces new charges of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, trafficking Schedule IV drugs and three counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, deputies say.(Al Cannon Detention Center)
In addition to the bench warrants for failure to appear in a 2019 case involving charges of distributing cocaine base, unlawfully carrying a weapon, child endangerment and assaulting an officer while resisting arrest, deputies say Sistrunk now faces additional charges of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, trafficking Schedule IV drugs and three counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano speaks on a drug bust made by the agency.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office provided these resources for Narcan distribution
5 Charleston Center Drive, Charleston
Charleston Police Department
180 Lockwood Blvd., Charleston
The Hope Project
1964 Ashley River Road, Ste. B, Charleston
St. James Health & Wellness
1189 Tibwin Road, McClellanville
1435 Stuart Engals Blvd., Ste. 101, Mount Pleasant,
Transcendence Treatment Center
3900 Leeds Ave., Ste. 101, North Charleston,
857 Coleman Blvd., Ste. D, Mount Pleasant
For a full statewide list, click here.
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