JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Major Case Narcotics Unit aimed at dismantling a local drug trafficking ring has netted 27 felony arrests, Sheriff Mike Williams revealed during a Thursday news conference.
The arrests are related to a bust that News4JAX first reported last week, involving six central Florida men.
Williams said that in April, JSO began its investigation in April. Investigators identified three main sources of supply coming from Orlando, identified as Israel Garcia, Derek Morales and Omar Rodrigues. He said the men were bringing in 15 to 30 kilos of cocaine per week.
“These three individuals led very similar operations, and were the main supplier of cocaine for several trafficking organizations that were operating in Jacksonville,” Williams said.
Morales was one of the six people arrested in the raid a week ago at a home on West 19th Street. That particular raid, investigators said, led to the seizure of 9 kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of $900,000.
The kilos that were being brought in, the sheriff said, were being broken down and sold on the streets of Jacksonville.
The cocaine would be shipped as far away as New York City and Colorado, Williams said. In Colorado, an active duty Army sergeant was arrested in the investigation. He was identified as Kevin Marquez.
“Marquez was buying kilos of cocaine and having them shipped to Jacksonville where they were distributed on the streets under his direction,” Williams explained.
Arrests of suppliers were also made in Puerto Rico.
Williams said police also seized crack cocaine, meth, marijuana, thousands of dollars in cash, 22 guns, 9 cars, a boat and a jet ski.
The drugs will be sent to a crime lab where they will be analyzed. If convicted, the suspects could face decades and possibly life in prison.