Three men from Bluffton are facing serious charges following a Drug Enforcement Agency raid on Tybee Island over the weekend.
It happened inside of a vacation rental home. It's safe to say neighbors had no idea what was going on inside the house. However, DEA agents have been keeping a close eye on the house on 6th Street for a while. Signs went up telling people drugs were seized from the rental, which is surrounded by other rentals and Tybee homes.
Thirty-five-year-old Eric Hughes, 23-year-old Taylor Place, and 25-year-old Willie Rice are facing a five-count indictment dealing with the drugs allegedly being manufactured there. Inside the home, officers found U-47700, which is a synthetic opioid substance often used with heroin or fentanyls. On the street, it can be called 'pink,' 'pinky,' or 'U4.' Also found inside the rental property was Alprazolam, which is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is known by the brand names of Xanax and Niravam.
"That is not the norm for Tybee. People come down here and enjoy the island and vacation rentals. It is odd that these guys actually rented a house and pulled off this operation. It is not the norm for Tybee Island, so I don't think it is a problem for Tybee, to be honest with you," said Anthony Balcom, Tybee Island resident.
All three have been charged with using a rental property to manufacture counterfeit pills and manufacturing a controlled substance with reckless disregard for human life. Hughes and Place are also being charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and possession a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Hughes and Place face a maximum of life in prison while Rice faces a maximum of up to 20 years.
The case was investigated by agents of the DEA in South Carolina and Georgia.