Search warrants were served at homes in Orlando, Apopka, Sorrento and Kissimmee and a total of nine people were arrested Tuesday as a number of Central Florida police agencies dug further into an investigation into an alleged large-scale Mexican marijuana distribution ring labeled the “Gulf Cartel.”
The FBI, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Osceola and Seminole County Sheriff’s Offices apparently seized evidence, including cars and motorcycles from one of the properties, and forensic investigators were reportedly seen carrying shovels to apparently dig up money buried in the yard.
Federal prosecutors allege the Gulf Cartel shipped thousands of pounds of marijuana from Mexico through McAllen, Texas and then to Panama City, Florida and finally, to the six homes raided in Orange, Lake and Osceola counties.
Each monthly shipment was allegedly worth as much as $1million.
The nine individuals arrested apparently operated undercover, and investigators are looking into their immigration status.
Investigators accused the nine suspects of burying cash in the yard until it could be moved back to Texas in an 82-page report filed in Federal Court on Monday.
A source apparently told investigators that the Gulf Cartel allegedly had $2 million buried in Florida at some point while waiting for the money to be sent back to Texas.
Nine people were named and charged with possession with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana in a criminal complaint filed in Federal Court on Monday. Five of those were named in Federal Court on Tuesday afternoon.
In Florida, possession with intent relates to the criminal charge of possession of an illegal substance, such as marijuana or cannabis, with the intent to sell the drug. Penalties for this crime are severe, and each of the men charged in this particular case face a minimum of 10 years in prison. Most often the penalties for possession with the intent to distribute, sell or deliver include incarceration in state prison for as much as 30 years. Possession with the intent to sell or distribute is a felony offense, and because of this, it is vital to the success of your case to contact a Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorney to help defend your case from the very beginning. The criminal defense lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand the consequences associated with a criminal drug charge and will implement strategic defense tactics to protect your rights.
When law enforcement believes they have discovered a person who has committed the crime of possession with intent to sell or deliver, they are not required to prove that the drugs in question were actually sold by that person. Rather, they must establish that the person merely intended to sell the drugs in their possession. The following are just some of the factors the State will look at to decide applicable charges:
• The amount of cash in an individual’s custody
• The amount of drugs in a person’s possession
• The location where the offense transpired
• How the drugs are packaged
In addition to the above factors, law enforcement officers may rely on circumstantial evidence to prove that the drugs possessed were intended to be sold or delivered. In fact, even a scarce amount of drugs found on a person may be alleged by police to be intended for future sale or distribution.
The Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you understand the charges you are facing as well as your legal rights. As former prosecutors in Florida, our staff of attorneys has first-hand knowledge of how the prosecution works and how to assemble a case to defend your rights against any drug charge. Regardless of whether this is your first offense or if you have priors, we will fight for the best results possible and will not hesitate to take your case to trial.