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      Bennettsville man charged in murder now in federal custody

      Demario Covington, who's accused of murder, is now in federal custody as part of a drug conspiracy round up.

      Officials with the Bennettsville Police Department say Demario Covington, who's accused of killing Wayne Simmons, is now in federal custody as part of a drug conspiracy round up.

      They say he was picked up by federal agents Monday morning at the Marlboro County Courthouse.

      Covington is charged with accessory after the fact and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Wayne Simmons, who was found shot to death at a home on Third Avenue in Bennettsville in December of 2008.

      We're still waiting to learn the federal charges against Covington and if they relate to the state charges he already faces.

      Derrick Grace is also charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder in Simmons death. Thursday morning, bond was set for Grace at $60,000. If he makes bond, he is to have no contact with Simmons' family.

      In February 2010, Simmons' father, Wayne "Wolf" Simmons was arrested after police say he shot Covington three times in the ER at Scotland Memorial Hospital in Laurinburg, North Carolina. Covington survived the shooting.

      Officers arrested Simmons outside the hospital and charged him with attempted murder and seven other charges. Police initially questioned if the shooting was connected to the murder of Simmons' son in 2008. Wayne "Wolf" Simmons is still in a Raleigh jail.

      Marlboro County Sheriff Fred Knight says Covington and 10 others were arrested in connection with the federal drug conspiracy after a two year long investigation between the sheriff's office and the FBI.

      The suspects are as follows:

      Calvin Townsend, aka Kojack 38 years old

      Jamie Lilly, 32 years old

      Rhysheen Rogers, 23 years old aka Thump

      Ramon Covington, 29 years old

      Lequan Anthony Fox, 21 years old

      Jerrica Gillespie, 24 years old

      David Liles, aka June Bug, 25 years old

      Nicholas Miller, aka Wee Wee, 31 years old

      Demario Covington, aka Booger Press, 32 years old

      Terrance Fuller, aka T-Bone or T-Bird, 26 years old

      Kartarie Sahndal Prince Leake, aka Kartarie Miller

      Sheriff Knight says the drug conspiracy has been going on since 1997. He says a 19 count indictment accuses the suspects of distributing cocaine. The operation to arrest the suspects was dubbed "Operation Shady Rest" because most of the suspects lived or grew up in the Shady Rest area of Marlboro County.

      The Marlboro County Sheriff's Office, FBI, SLED, Bennettsville police and U.S. Marshals arrested the defendants Thursday in Cheraw and Bennettsville.

      Sheriff Knight says during the arrests, they found marijuana and firearms.

      "These defendants are without a doubt the largest group of major drug dealers we have arrested since I have been sheriff. This again is another example of agencies working together and being patient on long term investigations. This was a precise operation and all of the defendants were taken into custody within a few hours. I am proud to have a working relationship with the FBI, Bennettsville Police, SLED, Cheraw PD and Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office that yields these results. I encourage anyone with drug information to continue to call and report it. I hope this brings some peace and safety to the citizens of the county and the Shady rest area of Bennettsville SC," said Sheriff Knight.