Drug trafficking ring operates out of Orange County jail, investigators say
ORANGE COUNTY, Florida. –Local law enforcement leaders attended a press conference Wednesday at the Ninth Judicial State’s Attorney’s Office in Orlando to announce the arrest, prosecution and/or search of 16 people whom investigators say are members of a drug trafficking organization.
“Operation Icarus,” a joint investigation between the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Association, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Orange County Corrections, found that the defendants’ group was responsible for trafficking cocaine and thousands of cocaine pills. fentanyl throughout central Florida. . They also discovered that an individual incarcerated at the Orange County Jail played a vital role in the drug ring and those arrested would be prosecuted by the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office, Monique Worrell.
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“The increase in fentanyl overdose deaths in our circuit is alarming, and as a prosecutor, I will continue to use my resources to neutralize the drug trafficking organizations that continue to introduce fentanyl into our communities,” said Worrel. “Fentanyl has had a huge impact on central Florida and is fueling the overdose epidemic in our communities.”
Worrell said fentanyl was listed as the cause of death in 91% of drug overdose deaths in Florida in 2020, and a report from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Mid-District of Florida concluded there were nearly two times more fentanyl-related deaths in Florida in 2019 than deaths caused by gun violence.
“Unlike gun violence, fentanyl is a silent killer that doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” Worrell said. “There is no typical demographic profile of a drug trafficker. As you can see in the photo before you today, these people involved were of many age groups, ethnicities, genders and different origins.
Worrell was joined at the conference by Orange County Sheriff John Mina, Orange County Corrections Chief Louis Quinones Jr., Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón and AJ Collazo, Deputy Director of central Florida’s drug-intensive area. Members of the MBI Board of Directors were present at the event, as was MBI Director Ron Stucker. Also in attendance was the DEA’s Acting Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Rodney Blount.
Stucker said the network was trying to sell cocaine throughout central Florida, as well as squeezed fentanyl pills disguised as oxycodone. Due to the operation, Stucker said more than 11,000 fentanyl pills were prevented from reaching the streets.
“So it’s the same shape, same color, same size, and they’ll mark it with the same markings as if it were oxycodone. The danger here is that you might have someone who suffered chronic pain and may have become addicted or addicted to painkillers They go to the streets for supplies now they think they are buying oxycodone but instead someone is selling them a substance 100 times more powerful than that,” said Stucker.
Sheriff John Mina said the operation saved thousands of lives.
“If you think about 11,000 pressed fentanyl pills, that stopped coming into our community, it’s prevented thousands upon thousands of dangerous opportunities for those who are addicted to opioids, and I’m just grateful that we have such a good working relationship here in Orange County, and we continue to work together,” Mina said.
He also described the intricacies of the ring himself and his relationship with 28-year-old Steven Robert John Albers, a documented gang member held in Orange County Jail who allegedly managed to smuggle drugs into the ring. establishment and even helped implement drug trafficking measures in central Florida. behind bars.
“What Albers and these other inmates were trying to do was try to smuggle what is called Suboxone, or Xanax, into the prison for use inside the prison, and they were trying to get him in. That’s what we found out, corrections found out early on, brought it to our attention, we started investigating,” Stucker said.
Stucker said Operation Icarus began in April 2021 when Orange County Corrections approached MBI after discovering the Xanax smuggling operation. Regarding how Albers was able to smuggle drugs into the Orange County jail, Stucker said he couldn’t specifically discuss the jail’s security procedures.
“Once we started investigating, we found out about the fentanyl operation that was being distributed all over central Florida. They weren’t bringing fentanyl to the Orange County Jail. They weren’t trying to do this in prison. Albers had his drug trafficking organization, he was arrested, he went on from inside the prison to order that organization to distribute pills,” Stucker said.
Outside of prison, Albers’ girlfriend, Dawn Darlene Raimondi, 32, reportedly followed Albers’ instructions on how to run the organization herself, acting on packing instructions, the price and sale of fentanyl pills, said Stucker.
Charges against members of the group include racketeering, trafficking fentanyl and cocaine, and bringing contraband into a county facility, among others.
Although the majority of the investigation was completed last year, with many of the suspects arrested before the 2021 holidays, some are still at large. Because of how at least one suspect is believed to be out of state — Marshawn Barnes, 28, who Stucker said shipped the fentanyl pills via multiple carriers from Arizona to Albers’ supplier in Orlando — the DEA will investigate further, treating the case as a multi-state operation.
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