ORLANDO, Fla. — A months-long undercover operation by the Drug Enforcement Administration led to the arrest of a man believed to be the leader of a drug trafficking organization based in Orlando.
According to a federal complaint filed in the Middle District of Florida Friday, Luis Miguel Plaza was already known to the DEA as a distributor of fentanyl in the Central Florida area when their investigation began, and was believed to be the head of an Orlando-based distribution organization.
Through the course of their investigation into allegations that Plaza was distributing xylazine and fentanyl in Central Florida, agents learned of two phone numbers he was using to communicate with two people who would turn out to be confidential sources for the DEA.
According to the complaint, on March 29, 2023, agents from the DEA’s Orlando District Office learned from one of the informants that a man later identified as Plaza was looking for buyers of cocaine and fentanyl in the Orlando area.
Later, in April, agents arranged to purchase a sample of fentanyl powder from Plaza. An undercover task force officer met with Plaza and purchased approximately 28 grams of fentanyl powder from him for $780.
Analysis at a DEA lab later confirmed the white power purchased from Plaza was in fact pure xylazine powder.
According to the DEA, xylazine, also known as “Tranq,” is a powerful sedative approved for veterinary use that dealers often mix with fentanyl to increase their profits. It’s also sought by users because it extends the euphoric effects of fentanyl.
Xylazine is particularly risky because naloxone, better known as Narcan, does not reverse its effects.
Less than two weeks after the initial purchase, agents arranged another meeting with Plaza to purchase approximately 100 fentanyl pills from him.
Investigators were watching as Plaza left his apartment on Buchanan Bay Circle for a meeting with the two confidential informants, during which he sold them approximately 100 blue “M30″ fentanyl pills and one white pill believed to be Tramadol.
Again, analysis at a DNA lab confirmed the agents’ suspicions.
According to the complaint, on January 5, 2024, Plaza contacted one of the informants via the messaging app “WhatsApp” and claimed to have approximately 7,000 to 9,000 more M30 fentanyl pills to sell, and sent a picture as proof.
Days later, agents arranged another purchase of approximately 1,000 of the pills from Plaza at a cost of $2.50 per pill.
The complaint says on Feb. 8 of this year, agents began planning an operation to purchase approximately 7,000 of the blue M30 fentanyl pills from Plaza for $2.85 each.
Multiple agents were watching Plaza’s every move again as he left his home with another unidentified man for the meeting. However, at one point, investigators say Plaza and the second man clearly realized they were being followed and began to conduct “countersurveillance measures” by executing U-turns and following one of the surveillance cars.
The two eventually returned to Plaza’s apartment, but traveled separately to the Mall at Millenia a short time later and made another transaction with one of the informants inside of a nearby Panera Bread restaurant.
After that exchange, the report says a Florida Highway Patrol trooper working with the DEA went into the restaurant with investigators who took him into custody.
Investigators seized approximately 890 grams of the blue M30 fentanyl pills from Plaza during his arrest.
According to the report, agents took Plaza to his apartment to execute a search warrant which yielded a pill press, cutting agents, wrapping materials and his two cell phones.
Plaza was placed under arrest and charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.
He has since been released with a set of pre-trial conditions in place.
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