Spartanburg, South Carolina —- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Detric McGowan, aka “Fat,” 46, of Piedmont, has entered a guilty plea in federal court to participating in a drug conspiracy involving cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and tramadol; possessing a kilogram or more of heroin with the intent to distribute; conspiring to launder money; obstruction of justice/witness tampering; and obstruction of justice/retaliation. United States District Donald Coggins of Spartanburg accepted the guilty plea and will impose McGowan’s sentence after the United States Probation Office prepares a presentence report.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing showed that beginning as early as 2016, law enforcement in Greenwood County began to see a rise in the number of opioid-abuse related cases, drug overdose deaths, and overdose non-fatalities attributed particularly to heroin and fentanyl toxicity. Commonly found at the opioid overdose incidents and routinely seized by local law enforcement were counterfeit 30 milligram-size blue prescription pain pills laced with heroin and/or fentanyl and scored with a “V” on one side and “4812” on the other side.
Based on human intelligence, advanced electronic surveillance, the execution of search warrants, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement determined that McGowan, working with others, was a member of a drug trafficking organization operating in the Upstate of South Carolina, primarily in Laurens and Greenwood Counties, that was responsible for the distribution of in excess of $1 million dollars’ worth of heroin, cocaine, and/or fentanyl in the Upstate and elsewhere. Police seized in excess of 20 kilograms of heroin and approximately $1 million during the investigation. McGowan was indicted along with several co-conspirators in February 2019 and taken into custody.
Recently, McGowan began to discuss with a person who was incarcerated with him having his prosecutor and at least one witness killed. This person alerted law enforcement to the threat and an immediate investigation began. The evidence showed that McGowan had become frustrated with his legal position and desired his prosecutor and a witness killed. McGowan was recorded agreeing to pay the person $10,000 to kill the prosecutor and witness and providing information about how to find the targets. He also provided a telephone number and wrote down the name of the witness, so that upon release the cooperator could carry out the plan. McGowan confessed to the FBI of the plot that he had put in motion.
On the drug and obstruction counts, McGowan faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life.
The drug case was investigated by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Andy Moorman, Deputy Criminal Chief for the Narcotics Unit, is prosecuting the drug case.
The threat was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Service, and the 7th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Jim May and Katie Stoughton are prosecuting the threat case, along with Assistant United States Attorney Jason Peavy, Deputy Criminal Chief for the White Collar Unit.