TAMPA, FL — During a news conference in Tampa Wednesday, Attorney General Ashley Moody announced that a major drug trafficking organization operated by gang members affiliated with Mexican drug cartels is out of business in Florida
The FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office arrested 25 gang members with multiple felony counts related to drug trafficking, violent criminal acts and conspiracy.
Moody said the members of the SUR 13 gang, also known as Sureños, were trafficking drugs from behind bars. During their investigation, county, state and federal law enforcement seized more than 50 pounds, or 23 kilograms, of fentanyl, enough to kill more than 11 million Floridians, Moody said.
She said this case, combined with several other drug busts over the past few months, brings the total amount of fentanyl seized in Florida to nearly 85 pounds.
“In just a few months’ time, authorities have seized enough fentanyl to wipe out the combined populations of 66 of Florida’s 67 counties—more than 19 million people,” Moody said. ” The prevalence of this dangerous substance poses a critical threat not only to the wellbeing of the citizens of our state but also our nation.”
According to investigators, incarcerated leaders of SUR-13 operated their drug-trafficking business from within Florida prisons selling drugs shipped to Florida from Mexico and California.
Moody said the SUR-13 gang members worked with members of the MS-13 and the Latin Kings gangs to distribute the drugs around the state. Using contraband cell phones, members of SUR-13 would contact one another from different prisons throughout the state, including Brevard, Charlotte, Holmes and Miami-Dade counties. Gang members also kept contact with area drug dealers outside the prisons who would sell the drugs.
Over the course of the investigation, authorities seized more than 50 pounds, or 23.59 kilograms, of fentanyl, 380 pounds, or 172.37 kilograms, of methamphetamines, approximately five pounds, or 2.2 kilograms, of cocaine, approximately one pound, or 566 grams, of oxycodone, one pound, or 453.6 grams, of black tar heroin and a half pound, or 226.8 grams, of morphine.
“These suspects were arrested on a combined 64 first-degree felony counts,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass said.
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With the blessing of SUR-13’s ruling body — called the Mesa — gang members in Florida prisons even carried out the execution of inmates.
“The violence was often used to protect and further their large drug trafficking operation in southwest Florida,” Glass said. “There is no question that lives have been saved in Florida because of this case.”
“Transnational gang activity involving violence and the smuggling of dangerous narcotics such as fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines is a terminal societal disease that turns American streets into war zones,” Homeland Security Investigations Tampa Special Agent in Charge John Condon said. “It destroys the fabric of law and order if left unchecked. Alongside our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we will not sit idly by or turn a blind eye to the atrocities these bullies perpetrate in our communities, putting innocent citizens in the crossfire.”
“These arrests underscore the dangers of cell phones in prison,” Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon said.” Cell phones, like the ones used in this operation, open the door to a multitude of criminal enterprises and compromise the safety of our communities and our facilities.”
Those arrested were Hugo E. Cruz, aka Houdini; Carlos H. Martinez, aka Carlos Maya-Reyes, aka Indio; Rachel Gonzalez, aka Loka; Adolfo Magana, Jr.; Brayn L. Trejo; Dennis A. Perkins; Reba B. Perkins; Juan Carlos Cruz, aka Spider, aka Arana; Joseph W. Whitehead, Jr.; Juan S. Guijosa, Jr.; Omar Hernandez; Valentin Gomez; Esmeralda Guevara; Andres Bustamante; Johnny Cisnero; Franklin Guillen Lara; Jose Francisco Ramirez, aka Chico; Ruben Quinones, aka Yago; Efren Berumen, aka Brownie, aka Brown Aguila; Jonathan Martinez aka J-Blue; Stephanie Martinez, aka Lady Blue; Thomas E. Busby, II, aka Gutta; Mary Osorio; Jose F. Martinez, aka Guapo; and Gregory Enegess, aka Poet.
Criminal charges against the 25 people arrested include racketeering; trafficking in amphetamine, trafficking in fentanyl; trafficking in cocaine; trafficking in oxycodone; trafficking in morphine; conspiracy to commit first-degree murder to further the interests of a criminal gang; conspiracy to commit aggravated battery upon a person who is being detained in a prison to further the interests of a criminal gang; and directing the activities of a criminal gang.
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