Dealers in search of speed

Drug dealers apparently need overnight shipping, too, local narcotics agents say.

York County drug enforcement officers recently noticed a spike in drugs being shipped through delivery services such as FedEx, UPS and DHL.

"Within the last month or so, we've seen a dramatic increase," Lt. Jason Dalton of the county's multijurisdictional drug unit said.

Five people have been arrested in drug-shipping schemes since August, according to police reports.

About $150,000 worth of courier-delivered marijuana has been seized in the past month, Dalton said.

Although authorities can pinpoint why drug dealers are turning to delivery companies, Dalton thinks it's just a creative way to circumvent law enforcement.

But with the help of other police departments, confidential informants and the shipping businesses themselves, police are combating the illegal technique.

"It's manpower-intensive," Dalton said of the effort to track shipped drugs. "It's definitely a lot harder than some of your traditional police work."

Among the recent cases, police believe only two are related.

Devon Brown, 34, and his 39-year-old girlfriend, D'Angela Jones, both of Columbia, were arrested after police say they were working together in an operation where drugs were shipped to a box at the UPS store on S.C. 160 in Fort Mill. Their charges include trafficking marijuana.

The most recent case involving courier-shipped drugs happened this week, authorities said.

Police arrested 39-year-old Jonathan Gibson of 1127 Bose Ave. at his Rock Hill home on Tuesday afternoon, according to a police report.

Gibson was charged with trafficking marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana within the proximity of a school.

Dalton said police use different techniques to arrest suspected shipping service drug dealers, including stopping their car after a pick-up or executing search warrants after they've come home.