Updated:SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —
Nineteen people have been arrested in connection with the sale or purchase of prescription drugs, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators said the City County Investigative Bureau started investigating the group in September after complaints of drug activity in Seminole County communities.
According to investigators, agents began an undercover operation and made drug purchases.
Investigators said those arrested ranged in age from 18 to 81.
"One of the first of its kind," Kim Cannady of Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said.
Five people, Marvin Brown, 31, John Killingsworth, 30, Charnice Medlock, 23, Katrina Redden, 31, all of Sanford, and Arthur Cox, 81, of Oviedo, were identified by investigators as primary dealers and suppliers of the organization.
The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said one of the suspects is a teacher's assistant at an elementary school.
He's already bonded out of jail.
Eleven more people, who investigators said were buying the drugs, were arrested and charged with solicitation to deliver controlled substances.
The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said some of the others went to doctors with legitimate problems to obtain prescription pills.
"Those people would then take those pills back to the main five and they would distribute them on the street," Cannady said.
Three people were arrested on charges related to the purchase of marijuana.
One of the people in custody works at an elementary school in Sanford.
Phillip Eubanks has been a physical education teacher's assistant at Bentley Elementary since 2005.
Now he's accused of selling marijuana.
"He would do about a pound a week, 16 ounces at about $230 an ounce," Cannady said.
Investigators consider five of the people handcuffed to be ringleaders.
"Those people were considered the head of the snake if you will," Cannady said.
All of the arrests were made Tuesday.
According to the sheriff's office, the investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected.
A spokesperson for Bentley Elementary said Eubanks has not faced any disciplinary action since being at the school and said the school does not have any indication that he was dealing on campus. None of the children were involved, the spokesperson said.
The school said Eubanks has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.