Laurens fentanyl dealer sentenced to 18 years
Laurens, S.C.; November 28, 2023 – A Laurens man is headed to prison after pleading guilty Monday to charges stemming from the distribution of at least a quarter million dollars of blue pills over the past six months, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced Tuesday.
Blake Francis Hess, 34, of Laurens, pleaded guilty to three counts of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Circuit Judge Donald B. Hocker then handed down a sentence of 18 years in prison. Hess has a prior conviction for trafficking opiates in Florida. With this latest conviction, a subsequent conviction could expose Hess to a sentence of life without parole under South Carolina’s “strikes” law.
Hess was arrested on three separate occasions between May 2022 and November 2022. Between the three arrests, narcotics officers with Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit seized more than 120 blue pills, a quantity of methamphetamine and a small amount of psilocybin mushrooms. The November arrest stemmed from a search warrant served at the home where Hess was living at the time. That search turned up four blue pills and a safe containing psilocybin mushrooms, scales, plastic baggies, and a rifle.
Following his second arrest in August of 2022, Hess told investigators that he has been buying roughly 200 blue pills every day for six months. Hess told investigators that he would purchase the pills for $4 each and typically sell them for $8 each. A conservative estimate allowing for his own use of the pills would mean Hess moved more than $250,000 worth of fentanyl during that time span.
Assistant Solicitor Jake Lampke handled the case for the state with assistance from 8th Circuit Investigator Jared Hunnicutt. Solicitor Stumbo praised the work of his staff alongside narcotics investigators from Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds’s department in making the arrest and securing a conviction in the case.
“We are encouraged by the most recent SLED crime report shows a reduction in most violent crimes and drug crimes across the 8th Circuit,” Solicitor Stumbo said following the sentencing. “This is being made possible by our prosecutors partnering with our law enforcement agencies to put people like Blake Hess in prison and keep them there so they cannot continue to spread the deadly scourge of street-made fentanyl pills in our communities. We will continue to work alongside our law enforcement agencies to remove these poison pushers from the streets.”