14th Circuit Solicitor's Office​

Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties​

Drug trafficker apprehended, sentenced after conviction in absentia

Rachel Janowski

HAMPTON, S.C. (February 2, 2022) – A Florence County man who disappeared in the middle of his November drug-trafficking trial has been captured and sentenced.

Ronald Lee Lyons, 37, learned Thursday he received 15-year prison terms for each of two drug-trafficking and one drug-distribution charge. The terms are to be served concurrently.

Assistant Solicitor Rachel Janowski of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office prosecuted the case.

Lyons sold heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine to undercover officers in 2019. He initially appeared in court for the start of his trial in November, however, he did not return after a lunch break on the first day of proceedings. A Hampton County jury deliberated less than 15 minutes before finding him guilty in absentia on all charges. Circuit Court Judge H. Robert Bonds rendered the sentence but sealed it until Lyons could be captured and brought back before the court.

Ronald Lee Lyons

The sentence was made public Thursday by Circuit Court Judge Michael G. Nettles during a General Sessions term at the Hampton County Courthouse.

A S.C. State Law Enforcement Division team that tracks down fugitives located Lyons in Darlington County and arrested him Dec. 16. He had been on the lam about a month.

In February 2019, SLED, 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 an undercover agent.

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.