ORLANDO, Fla. — Representatives of multiple law enforcement agencies gathered in Orlando Thursday to announce the results of an investigation that spanned over six years.
Investigators say a major drug cartel that ran largely out of Lake County employed planes and trains in a multi-state trafficking operation that has supplied thousands of kilograms of methamphetamine and fentanyl to the Orlando area since 2016.
A federal grand jury returned indictments for 17 people Thursday as part of the drug trafficking and money laundering scheme. 14 have been arrested, but authorities are still searching for three others.
“This is a complex investigation involving a drug trafficking organization that transported thousands of kilograms of drugs across the United States,” U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg said during Thursday’s announcement.
“The drugs seized in this investigation are some of the most dangerous, most destructive, and most addictive substances we have today,” D.E.A. Special Agent Deanne Reuter added. “I can not stress enough, fentanyl is a highly addictive, extremely potent synthetic opioid.”
The arrests included suspected ringleader, 48-year-old Dudzinski Poole of Apopka. He’s charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to commit drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Poole faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to life in prison.
“The defendants who have been indicted included members of the conspiracy at every level…the leader, his key partners, and the source of the supply,” Handberg said.
Multiple Central Florida law enforcement agencies inspected flight records dating back more than two years and found the suspects were transporting drugs through trains and commercial flights.
Investigators found more than 350 flights taken by the organization to transport the drugs to Central Florida.
“For over six years, this organization trafficked methamphetamine and fentanyl,” Handberg said. “Thousands of kilograms intended for distribution here in Central Florida and elsewhere in the United States…but not anymore.”
Handberg says a key part of the money laundering case was Poole’s development of an entertainment business he used to promote concerts with artists and pay with the drug money.
Poole would then combine the profits from ticket sales with the drug trafficking money to keep the entire organization running for years.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, The Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Secret Service, and multiple local law enforcement agencies including the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orlando Police Department, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol and the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation.
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