Eight people in a cocaine trafficking investigation called Operation Sooner or Later were sentenced Monday, U.S. attorneys said.
Authorities said in the latest round of prosecutions, a chief judge sentenced Rodrigo Cantu Morales, Carlos Uriostegui-Nunez, Mario Ginorio and Willie Brooks IV to 10 years' imprisonment; Monte Washington to 12 years, 11 months in federal prison; Isaias Ochoa to 7 years, 3 months in federal prison; Deonte Dallas to 5 years' imprisonment; and David Ruvio III to 3 years in federal prison.
The eight were sentenced for their respective roles in an international cocaine conspiracy that spanned from Mexico, McAllen and Mission, Texas, and into Ocala and Jacksonville, Florida, attorneys said.
According to court records and trial testimony, the drug trafficking groups were based in Guerrero and Tamaulipas, Mexico. From early 2007 until late 2011, authorities said they were responsible for importing several hundred kilograms of cocaine into the Ocala area.
During the investigation, Jesus Lozano Alvarez and Morales were identified as working with a Mexican cocaine source of supply known as "El Nino" in Tamaulipas, Mexico. U.S. attorneys said they shipped loads of cocaine via transport vehicles and couriers from south Texas to the Ocala area.
When the loads of cocaine reached Ocala, authorities said Uriostegui-Nunez, Alvarez, Ginorio, and Tavaries Norris worked together to redistribute the cocaine to other large-scale dealers in the middle district of Florida and South Carolina.
The cocaine was resold to other kilogram level dealers, a portion of which was converted into crack cocaine and sold on the streets of Marion County, according to U.S. attorneys.
As a result of the multi-year investigation, 55 people were indicted in the Ocala and Jacksonville divisions of the middle district of Florida. Authorities said 49 of the individuals were arrested and have pleaded guilty, or were convicted at trial. One individual is deceased and five remain at-large.
During the investigation, attorneys said the U.S. seized $1.1 million in U.S. currency, more than $900,000 worth of real property, vehicles valued at more than $220,000 and 50 firearms.