In one of the largest cocaine trafficking case the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has seen in three decades, a 2-year investigation called Operation Outta Hand brought down drug trafficking organization operating out of Central Florida and Puerto Rico. In all, 339 kilos of cocaine were seized.
During the Operation Outta Hand investigation, authorities were made aware of brutal tactics of the drug trafficking organization, including shootings and torture.
According to law enforcement, the amount of cocaine coming into central Florida has driven down the bulk price of cocaine by about a third.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina celebrated the operation that dismantled a big drug trafficking ring operating, seizing drugs worth over $8 million. Local Central Florida law enforcement at the announcement included representatives from the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico, and Florida Attorney General Office of Statewide Prosecution.
“There is no doubt in our minds that the arrests of these individuals and the significant seizure of these drugs have saved lives already in our community and will continue to save lives,” Sheriff Mina said.
Law enforcement added that these criminals also had guns and the ability to convert firearms to fully automatic weapons. On two occasions, agents had to take immediate action to stop imminent violence and stopped that violence, but on a third occasion they say they have evidence of torture. Five of the defendants are being charged federally for illegally shipping firearms from Orlando to Puerto Rico.
The Orange County Sheriff added that law enforcement will will dismantle other drug trafficking organizations and stop them in their tracks if they try to fill the void created by this bust.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute the defendants, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico for state charges. Some face up to life in prison, and others face up to 30 years in prison, depending on the charges.
MBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration seized over 339 kilos of cocaine, and there are 35 defendants in this case:
The defendants shipped the drugs into Central Florida, and then distributed cocaine throughout the region, the state of Florida and up the East Coast as far as New Jersey, Connecticut and Maine.
In addition to Sheriff Mina, Orlando Police Chief Eric Smith praised the multi-jurisdictional joint operation and warned the community once again about the threats of fentanyl.
“It is my goal to make sure the Orlando Police Department is working close with every agency to reduce violent crime in our community,” said Chief Smith. “Criminals don’t respect jurisdictional lines and this case clearly demonstrates how well we all work together to put them in jail.”