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HomeNewsFeds Indict 6 Augusta-Area Suspects in Crackdown on Gang-Related Violence

Feds Indict 6 Augusta-Area Suspects in Crackdown on Gang-Related Violence

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Three Augusta men face felony gun charges while three others also faces drug trafficking charges as Richmond County law enforcement officials pursue individuals associated with an increase in gang-related violent crime.

Federal indictments returned in the March term of the Southern District of Georgia U.S. District Court Grand Jury charge all six defendants with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, a charge that carries a statutory sentence upon conviction of up to 10 years in federal prison – with a possible sentence of up to life in prison for defendants with a significant record of criminal convictions.

“Law enforcement agencies throughout the Southern District need assistance in battling the increase in violent crime and illegal firearms, and our office continues to answer the call to help,” said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “We stand with Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree in protecting the law-abiding citizens of the Augusta area by removing those who would threaten the community’s safety.”

Defendants charged in the Augusta area include:

  • Reginald DeMarco Smith, also known as Reginald Barnes, a/k/a “Gunslinger,” 48, of Augusta, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Cocaine, and An Amount of Fentanyl, “Crack” Cocaine, and Marijuana; Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Smith sped away from an attempted traffic stop Feb. 12, 2021, by a Richmond County Sheriff’s deputy, then abandoned his vehicle and ran into the woods. Investigators found a loaded pistol, a significant amount of drugs, and more than $18,000 in cash at the scene, and Smith was located and arrested nine months later.
  • Robert Lewis Coney Jr., 50, of North Augusta, S.C., and Donnie Lee Curtis Jr., 37, of Tunnel, Ga., each charged with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and To Distribute, 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine; Possession with Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine; two counts of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; and Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon. The two were identified during a drug trafficking investigation in early 2021, and arrested May 19, 2021, in the parking lot of a motel in Columbia County.
  • Lyondo Larell Ware, a/k/a “China,” 41, of Augusta, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Ware was on felony probation when Richmond County deputies searching his residence Sept. 22, 2021, found a loaded pistol.
  • Willie Liddell, 38, of Augusta, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Richmond County Sheriff’s deputies were assisting the U.S. Marshals Service in arresting Liddell on an outstanding warrant when they discovered a pistol in Liddell’s jacket pocket.
  • Elijawan Leysath Rhodes, 29, of Augusta, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Richmond County Sheriff’s Office investigators responding to gunfire at a Wrightsboro Road motel Dec. 31, 2021, arrested Rhodes after a brief chase when they found a pistol in Rhodes’ vehicle.

Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The cases are being investigated by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia G. Rhodes, Henry W. Syms Jr., and Jeremiah L. Johnson.

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Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.
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