JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ten suspects have been arrested and four are still being sought on charges of trafficking cocaine locally and statewide, Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford announced Tuesday.
The investigation was dubbed Operation Deja vu because the suspects have been arrested before, Rutherford said.
He said the operation began early last year when Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives identified a local man named Jamael Tyson (pictured below) as a multi-kilo drug trafficking suspect.
Tyson was a key player in a large group, purchasing cocaine from Miami, Rutherford said. He said that in March 2013, police realized there were two organizations and learned Tyson was purchasing cocaine from the organizations and shopping for the best deal.
Rutherford said a Dunn Avenue warehouse on the Northside was used to store the drugs.
In April, the FBI set up surveillance on the warehouse and observed key members of the group dropping off cocaine, Rutherford said.
"Before it was busted, I did notice a lot of cars coming in and out," said Nicole Rigsby, who works at Pet Grooming Salon. "I didn't think anything of it at the time."
On April 18, a search warrant was issued and investigators found 8 kilos of cocaine, $104,000 in a case, two handguns, motorscooters, jet skis, SUVs and cars, Rutherford said.
He said another search warrant was obtained for a house and investigators recovered a kilo of cocaine in a vacuum cleaner bag.
The FBI continued surveillance on Tyson, who police said was moving drugs from Texas to Miami to Jacksonville.
Rutherford said police set up in St. Augustine to seize cocaine during a traffic stop to capture Tyson and an unnamed driver. Rutherford said Tyson increased his speed and drove away, and police called off the chase.
Tyson is still at large.
In February, an unnamed conspirator was located in Riverside, where investigators found $282,000 in cash, ledgers to keep track of money, several vehicles and weapons. They said there were several bank accounts linked to the co-conspirator, netting $100,000.
Rutherford said both organizations have been dismantled, and all 14 suspects face at least 15 years in prison.
The street value of cocaine seized is $500,000, including 2 kilos thrown out of Tyson's vehicle during the chase, Rutherford said.
"These guys are all carrying guns, too. I mean, they are a murder waiting to happen," Rutherford said.
Among those arrested were Cedrick Sapp, Jackie Wyman, Samantha Colon, Jerrold Miller, Kenneth Caldwell, Jackie Wyman and Alexander Lascalzo.
The others who have been arrested are cooperating with police but are not being named because they are giving police information, Rutherford said.
Of the 10 arrested so far, investigators said they have seized 400 grams of cocaine valued at more than $800,000, and $370,000 cash. Drug agents also seized a pound of marijuana and nine vehicles.
Anyone with any information on Tyson's whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.