Florida Drug Bust Results in 85lbs of Fentanyl

November 1, 2022 Criminal Defense, Drug Charges

In the last several months, Florida has seen a huge increase in fentanyl-related cases. The most recent case was an investigation with local Florida law enforcement, with the help of the FBI and Homeland Security.

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office released a statement regarding the most recent case, in which over 50lbs of fentanyl—along with other illegal substances—were seized.

We will provide details on the case, along with information on drug trafficking in Florida.

What’s the Case?

An investigation led by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations, and Hendry County Sheriff’s Office worked together to seize a large number of illicit substances, leading to charges against 25 different defendants.

Combining this case with several other drug busts in Florida over the last few months brings the total amount of fentanyl seized to almost 85 pounds—which is considered potent enough to kill every person in 66 of the 67 counties in Florida.

According to the post by Moody’s office, the investigation was aimed at shutting down a major drug trafficking cartel known as SUR-13 gang, also referred to as Sureños. The drug cartel was accused of operating a drug trafficking organization from behind bars as they are known for being loosely affiliated with groups that pay tribute to the Mexican Mafia in the US state and federal prisons.

Investigators said that the incarcerated leaders were operating from within Florida prisons and that the gang would often work with opposing gangs like MS-13 and the Latin Kings in a criminal organization ruling body called the “Mesa.” Often the members would be ordered to execute other members and continue the sourced drugs from either California or Mexico.

The gang members allegedly used contraband cellphones to contact each other around the various State prisons—including Brevard, Charlotte, Holmes, and Miami-Dade. The cellphones were also to facilitate shipments and deliveries.

After the investigation was considered complete, authorities had seized the following items:

  • Over 50lbs or 23.59 kilograms of fentanyl
  • 380lbs or 172.37 kilograms of methamphetamines
  • 5lbs or 2.2 kilograms of cocaine
  • 1lb or 566 grams of oxycodone
  • 1lb or 453.6 grams of black tar heroin
  • 1/2lb or 226.8 grams of morphine

List of Charges

After the investigation, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Statewide prosecutors are charging 25 defendants on 64 felony counts. Below is a list of the charges:

  • Racketeering
  • Trafficking in amphetamine
  • Trafficking in fentanyl
  • Trafficking in cocaine
  • Trafficking in oxycodone
  • Trafficking in illegal drugs
  • Conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • Conspiracy to traffic in amphetamine
  • Conspiracy to traffic fentanyl
  • Conspiracy to traffic heroin
  • Conspiracy to traffic cocaine
  • Conspiracy to commit first-degree murder to further the interests of a criminal gang
  • Conspiracy to commit an aggravated battery upon a person who is being detained in a prison, jail, or other detention center to further the interests of a criminal gang
  • Directing the activities of a criminal gang

Each of the counts listed above is considered a first-degree felony or higher in the state of Florida.


Mark Glass, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner, claimed that the violence in these cases is often used to try and protect and further larger drug trafficking operations in south Florida. “There is no question that lives have been saved in Florida because of this case,” Glass said.

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Department gave the following statement regarding their help with the investigation:

“We may be a smaller agency in comparison to some, but we have a staff that I will stand next to any large agency and be confident in their abilities. My narcotics unit is exceptionally adept at targeting major drug traffickers. When you couple that with the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Office of Attorney General Moody, we become a powerful force in combating drug dealers as witnessed in this operation that began in Hendry County. The criminal element needs to understand; if they set up in Hendry County, we will find them and eliminate them.”

David Walker, the special agent in charge of the FBI division in Tampa, said, “This investigation highlights the multi-agency teamwork that is necessary to dismantle the violent gangs preying on our communities. Our communities are safer today as a result of the hard work and commitment by state, local, and federal law enforcement to protect and serve.”

Drug Trafficking in Florida

Florida Statute section 893.13 explains that any person can be charged with drug trafficking if they are accused of delivering or selling a controlled substance. You can also be charged with drug trafficking for traveling across state lines while in possession of a controlled substance.

The following is a list of commonly trafficked controlled substances:

A person who gets arrested for drug possession will usually be charged with the aligning drug possession charge. A conviction of a drug possession charge can result in serious consequences already, such as expensive fines and imprisonment. However, if the defendant possessed an illegal drug over a certain amount or weight, they can be charged with the more serious crime of drug trafficking.

To convict a defendant of drug trafficking, the prosecution must be able to prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  • The accused person had actual or constructive possession of the illicit substance (meaning knowledge and control of the substance);
  • The substance is controlled under the State’s law; and
  • The substance had a weight over the threshold amount listed under the State’s law.

This last section is the tricky part because each drug has its own threshold amount under Florida law. One example is the threshold for trafficking marijuana is a weight over 25lbs; however, the threshold for trafficking fentanyl is four grams or more. Generally, a first-degree felony conviction for drug trafficking can include up to 30 years or life in Florida prison, and up to $10,000 in fines.

To find out the specific penalties for drug trafficking in Florida based on the type of controlled substance, read our informative page here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of drug trafficking, you should take the charges very seriously and contact a defense attorney in your area. Getting arrested for drug possession and drug trafficking can be extremely stressful. An experienced attorney can work with you to build a strong defense for your case.

Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients across Florida for various drug charges. We promise to stand in your corner and fight for your future. Contact us today at (850) 681-7777 or leave us an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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