OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) – A Marion County man is finally behind bars for good after a life of crime. Noah Steven Francis, 27, was arrested in February 2021, after agents with the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team (UDEST) raided a home operation where he dealt drugs. He was finally sentenced to Life in Prison this month, according to court documents.
“It was a combined effort between both agencies and the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike team,” said Director of UDEST, Capt. Jason Douglas.
Francis has been in and out of the Marion County jail for eight years. It was September 10th, 2013 when Francis was arrested for the first time, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Inmate Search database. He was arrested for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, a felony crime.
In February 2021, UDEST agents arrested habitual offender Noah Steven Francis on drug trafficking charges. Earlier this month he was sentenced to life in prison. The 27-year-old has been in and out of the Marion County jail since 2013. @WCJB20 #fentanyl #drugabuse pic.twitter.com/i7UIedYAld
Throughout the years he was arrested on different drug and illegal weapons charges. He was also arrested for battering a pregnant woman in 2017. Charges listed in the Inmate Search database read he strangled his victim knowing she was pregnant.
UDEST began this final investigation, which would ultimately get Francis off the streets, in January of 2021. Douglas said there were several overdose cases investigators were working on in the Summerfield area that they believed Francis was somehow a part of, which lead them to open an investigation against him. However, detectives said they haven’t found evidence yet that connects Francis to any overdose deaths.
After about a month of detective work, they were granted warrants to search two properties under Francis’s direction, and with the assistance of SWAT teams from MCSO and the Ocala Police Department (OPD), they raided his operation.
“We located Noah Francis and another individual at a residence in Summerfield,” said Douglas. “Along with Noah Francis’s son.”
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During the operation, UDEST agents seized more than four pounds of fentanyl, 80 grams of Methamphetamine, 70 grams of Cocaine, 1,085 grams of Marijuana, three guns, high-capacity magazines, ammunition, and more than $16,000 in U.S. currency.
“We saved lives and we were able to take somebody off the streets that potentially was distributing drugs that were killing people, drugs that people were overdosing on, drugs that were being laced into other drugs that people are using,” Douglas said. “And I would say it sends a message, it really does. A clear message.”
On Friday, March 11, a Marion County jury found Francis guilty of drug trafficking, child neglect, and weapons-related charges. He was sentenced to life in prison.
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