35 arrested in takedown of Central Florida drug smuggling operation, investigators say

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Investigators said Thursday that they’ve taken down a massive drug smuggling operation in Central Florida.

The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation said the drug trafficking organization brought in large amounts of cocaine and fentanyl from Puerto Rico, and they made it as far north as Maine.


MBI said the organization was shipping at least 60 kilos of cocaine a week into into Central Florida for up to six years using the Postal Service and private shipping companies.

“Drug trafficking organizations have the capacity to be extremely violent. And that’s one reason we prioritize the investigation and prosecution of drug traffickers,” MBI Director Ron Stucker said.

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Dubbing it “Operation Outta Hand,” the MBI spent two years working to dismantle the drug trafficking organization.

“One seizure alone was over 220 kilos of cocaine,” Stucker said.

Working with local and federal partners like the DEA and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in all they nabbed 35 suspects.

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MBI officials said on top of cocaine, the group was also bringing in deadly fentanyl.

The Orange County sheriff and Orlando police chief both said they believe shutting down this organization has and will save lives.

Depending on the charges, if convicted, some of the suspects face up to life in prison.

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.