Photo/Story Gallery 2008

FHP Helps Bring Down A Major Drug Trafficking Ring

K9 ZK9 EnzoTroop B’s Contraband Interdiction Program (CIP) recently assisted the Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team in a North Florida drug enforcement initiative in Marion County. Several key suspects were arrested and drugs seized in the bust of a major cocaine drug trafficking organization that imported cocaine directly from Mexico for sale in the United States.

Pictured: K-9 Z (left) and K-9 Enzo (right).

The drug trafficking organization, which used couriers or mules to smuggle cocaine over the Mexican border into Texas, transported the drugs into Florida in vehicles with elaborate traps or hidden compartments. Proceeds from the sale of the cocaine were sent back to Mexico using the same smuggling techniques. HIDTA agents believed this organization was responsible for bringing three major shipments into Florida last year. It is estimated that each shipment contained 300 kilograms of cocaine, with a wholesale value of six million dollars each. Our FHP CIP Team was made ready to assist with taking down this notorious cocaine drug ring.

In late November, CIP Troopers Mike Jordan, Daniel Caulk, and Sergeant John Gourley searched a 1995 Honda after it was stopped in Marion County. During the traffic stop, K-9 Z alerted to drugs in the vehicle. A search uncovered a concealed compartment or trap located under the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle, which contained $83,940 and a loaded 9 mm pistol. Troopers seized the cash and gun and arrested the suspect who was from Mexico and later connected to the drug trafficking organization already under suspicion.

On December 1, CIP Troopers Robert Roux and Tim Strickland arrested a suspect from Hawthorne Florida after stopping the driver for speeding on US 301. K-9 Enzo alerted to drugs inside the suspect’s 1996 white Cadillac. A subsequent search revealed 4 grams of powder cocaine and 10 grams of crack cocaine. These suspect’s and the drugs were connected to a major cocaine distributer in Marion County who was being supplied by the Mexican cocaine trafficking organization.

The following week, CIP Sergeant John Gourley and Trooper Michael Jordan stopped the driver of a red Mercury sedan in Ocala. A search of his vehicle resulted in the arrest of two suspects and the seizure of one kilo of cocaine and 4.4 grams of marijuana. These drugs were also linked to the cocaine trafficking organization.

Later the same day, FHP’s CIP Team members assisted with another traffic stop on State Road 40 with a blue Ford F250 pickup. Trooper Jordan’s partner K-9 Z alerted to narcotics in the truck. A subsequent search revealed the vehicle had been modified. The rear axle had been removed, leaving the axle housing and rear differential hollow. Inside the hollowed out area of the rear axle, troopers found $109,495 in cash. The two suspects from Texas were placed into custody, and later identified as drug couriers for the same drug trafficking organization that was under investigation.

Troop B’s CIP teams assisted in the follow up drug ring investigations, which lead to the arrest of four additional suspects and the seizure of another kilogram of cocaine, ten more grams of crack cocaine, and another $193,000 in cash. During the North Florida HIDTA operation, a total of nine suspects were placed into custody, and over $250,000, eleven vehicles, two ATV’s, four firearms (including an UZI), and 8.4 kilograms of cocaine were seized during the Marion County operation.