14th Circuit Solicitor's Office​

Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties​

Drug trafficker absconds during trial, convicted in absentia

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Rachel Janowski

HAMPTON, S.C. (November 17, 2021) – A Florence County man convicted of selling drugs to undercover agents in 2019 is on the lam.

A jury found Ronald Lee Lyons, 37, guilty Wednesday of three drug-related charges, following a two-day trial at the Hampton County Courthouse. Lyons, who initially appeared in court for the start of proceedings, did not return after a lunch break Tuesday. Circuit Court Judge H. Robert Bonds then issued a bench warrant for Lyons’ arrest.

The trial continued without him, and Lyons was convicted in absentia for trafficking methamphetamine, trafficking heroin and distributing fentanyl. The jury deliberated less than 15 minutes.

Judge Bonds set Lyons’ sentence, which remains under seal until he is apprehended.

 “Anyone who follows the news knows the deadly threat posed by each of the drugs Mr. Lyons was peddling,” said Rachel Janowski of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, who prosecuted the case. “This verdict represents the determination of a community, law enforcement and the Solicitor’s Office to keep this threat at bay.”

In February 2019, the S.C. Law Enforcement Division, the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office and the Hampton Police Department arranged to buy heroin and methamphetamine from Lyons. The exchange took place in a grocery store parking lot and was recorded by a surveillance team and the undercover agent.

Lyons gave the agent a green Crown Royal bag with five, clear plastic bags inside. Three of the bags contained heroin pressed into blue pills. Two bags contained methamphetamine pressed into orange pills. The agent paid Lyons $1,000.

SLED drug analysts determined the three bags of blue pills contained a total of 70 tablets with a mixture of heroin, fentanyl and an amount of the pain medication tramadol weighing 15.22 grams. The two bags of orange pills contained a total of 54 tablets of methamphetamine weighing 19.23 grams.

Lyons’ criminal history stretches nearly 20 years. His 13 previous convictions include domestic violence and possession with intent to distribute cocaine charges. He also has several additional drug-related charges pending in the 14th Circuit. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Anyone with information about Lyons’ whereabouts should contact their local law enforcement agency.

Ronald Lee Lyons