24 arrest warrants issued in central Florida drugs, firearms bust

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CENTRAL FLORIDA - Drugs were being imported from Puerto Rico and firearms were exported from the United States to Puerto Rico, investigators said Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration announced Wednesday that charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and trafficking in cocaine have been filed and arrest warrants have been issued against 24 people in central Florida.

Three search warrants were executed in Orange County Wednesday during "Operation Island Heat," a two-year investigation into a drug and firearms trafficking organization operating within Orange and Osceola counties.

At the center of the investigation were Edmundo Caraballo Olivero, 40, and Raul Pardo Soto, 41, who officers said owned and used a local restaurant, La Terraza on East Colonial Drive, as a base of operation. Other members of the cocaine trafficking organization sold trafficking amounts of cocaine to undercover agents at other locations in central Florida.

The organization smuggled multiple kilos of cocaine from Puerto Rico that were later sold and distributed in East Orange County and Osceola County.

"This criminal organization has strong ties to the Puerto Rican community in central Florida," said MBI director Larry Zweig.

In addition to cocaine, the organization also sold and distributed heroin and marijuana, authorities said. Investigators said the organization used the U.S. Postal Service to facilitate the transport of the contraband.

Undercover agents said seized firearms from the organization that varied from handguns to assault style rifles.

More than six kilos of cocaine were seized and over 30 firearms were recovered during the investigation, said authorities.

"You're making a huge impact on violent crime in our neighborhoods and our streets," said ATF supervisor Joe Lenczyk.

Anyone with additional information related to the drug trafficking organization is asked please contact MBI or ATF at (407) 836-9701 or Crimeline at 407-423-TIPS.