Eighteen people involved in a drug ring in Putnam County were arrested Monday after a four month-long investigation.
Investigators with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Tri-County Narcotics Task Force said the main leader of the operation was 31-year-old Johnny Batts, of Palatka. They said Batts would get drugs from suppliers in South Florida and distribute them to street dealers in north Florida.
"This organization itself is responsible for 211 felony convictions. These are not innocent citizens by any stretch of the imagination," said Dominick Pape with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "[The task force] said we don't just want the head of the snake. We want the whole snake and that's what they did."
Batts had recently been released from prison on drug-related charges, according to Seventh Judicial Circuit State Attorney R. J. Larizza.
Along with the arrests, investigators took in more than 1,200 grams of cocaine, a pound of marijuana, 60 Roxicodone pills, 10 Lortab pills, six firearms and more than $20,000 in cash.
"The drug trade drives everything," said Palatka Police Chief Gary Getchell. "It drives the burglaries, it drives the home invasions, automobile thefts, domestic violence."
Officials from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler County sheriff's offices, the Palatka Police Department, the St. Augustine Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations team investigated the drug ring.
Seven people were still being sought.
The following is a list of the individuals from Palatka, including one from East Palatka, who were arrested and their charges:
- Johnny Batts, 31, conspiracy to traffic cocaine
- Andrea Calhoun, 46, conspiracy to traffic cocaine
- Torrey Smart, 31, conspiracy to traffic cocaine
- Larry Hall Sr., 51, conspiracy to traffic cocaine
- Timothy Wiggins, 41, conspiracy to traffic cocaine
- Tyrone Johnson, 48, trafficking in cocaine
- Demetrius McCaskill, 28, conspiracy to traffic in a schedule II controlled substance
- Cartageous Valentine, 31, trafficking in cocaine
- Darrell Jones, 35, conspiracy to traffic in cocaine
- Kevin Adams, 32, trafficking in cocaine
- Alvin Perry, 33, trafficking in cocaine
- Lawrence Sharp, 42, conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to sell
- Marvin Brown, 32, conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to sell
- Jim Curry, 34, conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to sell
- Cory Daniels, 29, trafficking in cocaine
- Kristin Kellum, 24, conspiracy to possess a schedule II controlled substance
- Royvie Leonard, 52, possession of cocaine with intent to sell