According to a report by WFTV’s investigative reporter Daralene Jones, federal COVID-19 money to assist struggling businesses instead went to local Orange County gangs. In state records obtained by Jones, there was “documented proof that at least six people allegedly created limited liability companies, or LLCs, solicited people through social media and in some cases stole identities to apply for PPP and SBA loans, which were then approved,” according to the report.
Nearly three dozen were arrested or charged with racketeering and drug trafficking charges locally in one major bust. As part of the Orlando gang bust, local rappers Javarri Latre Walker, known as HotBoii, and Jacquavius Dennard Smith, who goes by the stage name 9lokkNine, were also arrested as part of Operation X-Force. Authorities said a feud between two rival Orlando gangs, one called Army, the other being 438 reportedly led by the rapper, has been linked to robberies, shootings and homicides in the greater Orlando area.
Now it looks like local gangs were using federal COVID-19 aid money to fund operations. According to Jones’ report, “investigators believe the money was used to fuel the criminal enterprise that included guns and drugs picked up from a marijuana farm in California and flown back to Orlando.”