South Carolina and federal authorities arrested 14 people on Nov. 15 on suspicion of committing various drug crimes. The arrests, which took place in Beaufort County and nearby areas, are the culmination of a multi-agency criminal investigation that took place over several years.

Beaufort County authorities said that the investigation focused on a drug ring that distributed opiates, cocaine and crack cocaine. During the execution of search warrants, agents seized a number of controlled substances, firearms and vehicles. Much of this evidence will be used to support federal cases against the defendants, but the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is charging two of the defendants. A 61-year-old Hilton Head man was charged with various counts of possession, sale and distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine within a half mile of a school. Meanwhile, a 54-year-old Hilton Head woman was charged with simple possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine. Both defendants were booked into the Beaufort County Detention Center. The other 12 defendants are being held by federal agencies and will face federal charges.

The investigation was a joint effort conducted by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and Hampton County Sheriff’s Office. They were assisted by Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The investigation remains open.

In order to avoid conviction, defendants facing drug charges may choose to retain legal counsel. An attorney could review the case and work to build a strong defense that leads to a reduction or dismissal of charges.