FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Florence County Sheriff TJ Joye said there has been an increase in drugs on West Lucas Street between I-95 and TV Road.

He called the busy interchange a 7/11 and is cracking down on motel owners who turn a blind eye and are contributing to the growing drug problem.

Joye said the area is a high-traffic area and has attracted drug dealers and users who use the motels as a place to get and sell drugs. Joye said there was an average of four overdoses a week at one point.

Joye said since setting up a narcotics bureau, the numbers have decreased significantly. He said they’re setting up units throughout the county to combat the issue.

“Most of the overdoses occur in the motel rooms there on Lucas Street, TV Road,” Joye said. “76 and 95 have had some as well.”

Joye said a lot of the motels are allowing people to stay knowing they are distributing drugs. He said they’re doubling down on the motels.

“We’ve closed Olio down,” Joye said. “We have another we are getting ready to close down but all these areas, they know who they are.”

Joye said the motel owners allowing people to stay affects businesses and the overall life of people in that area because they don’t know if they are safe.

“When you allow that, you’re dealing with people breaking in cars, breaking in to get money for their addiction and that’s what’s happening,” Joye said.

He said other operations like January’s Operation Extended Stay will be done in the future to crack down on crimes and drug trafficking.

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Taylor Ford is a multimedia journalist for News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2023. Taylor is a Florence native and covers the Pee Dee out of News13’s Florence Bureau. Read more of Taylor’s work here.