For Immediate Release
South Carolina Man Who Orchestrated Drug Deals by Phone from State Prison Sentenced to Over 15 Years in Federal Prison
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Zachariah Ryan Luke, 28, of Bennettsville, South Carolina, to 15 years and eight months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. During the same hearing, Judge Howard sentenced Luke’s co-defendant, Evin Rae Davenport, 32, of Greenwood, South Carolina, to 12 years in federal prison for the same offense. Luke and Davenport had pleaded guilty on Aug. 16 and Sept. 13, respectively.
According to court documents, in November 2021, Luke was serving a prison sentence in South Carolina for various drug and firearm offenses. Using contraband cellphones, Luke communicated with Davenport who assisted him in acquiring and selling illegal drugs on the street. Receiving direction from Luke, Davenport delivered drugs three times to a Florida-based drug dealer, including approximately one kilogram of methamphetamine that she had supplied to him outside of a retail store in South Carolina.
Once Davenport delivered the kilogram of methamphetamine, the dealer returned to Florida. In St. Augustine, a deputy observed a traffic offense and signaled the dealer to pull over. The dealer initially appeared to be looking for a place to stop, but instead accelerated and raced down the streets of a residential neighborhood. A police helicopter tracked the speeding car, and the pilot observed an object being thrown from the car and directed another deputy to that specific location. Following the directions of the pilot, the deputy located a backpack on the side of the road. Inside, the deputy found approximately 985.6 grams of crystal methamphetamine that laboratory testing would later show was 100 percent pure.
After attempting to dispose of the drugs, the dealer continued to drive, but eventually reached a dead end. He then abandoned the vehicle to hide in a nearby wooded area but was located and arrested. After that arrest, corrections officers in South Carolina seized multiple cellphones from Luke, which he was prohibited from possessing in prison. Investigators searched those phones and recovered text communications with both Davenport and the Florida-based dealer, concerning when, where, and from whom drugs were to be supplied and delivered.
This case was investigated by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the South Carolina Department of Corrections, the Aiken County (South Carolina) Sheriff’s Office, the Aiken (South Carolina) Department of Public Safety, the North Augusta (South Carolina) Department of Public Safety and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Coolican.