Archive for marzo, 2012
For the past three years, federal agents say, associatesof the Gulf Cartel trucked in thousands of pounds of marijuana to Apopkaand other Orlando communities — establishing the area as a distributionhub.
They buried millions of dollars on properties in CentralFlorida. They stashed assault rifles and ballistic vests in Apopka. They storedtheir drugs in open areas such as garden nurseries.
All the while, their drug trade brought inmillions of dollars.
Nine suspected members of the Central Florida ring wererecently charged by federal prosecutors in Orlando as part of a complexinvestigation that spanned to Texas and involved multiple federal and locallaw-enforcement agencies.
Investigators executed search warrants throughout Floridaand in Texas, and seized more than 6,000 pounds of marijuana, more than 90firearms and cash.
An 81-page criminal complaint filed in the case detailsmuch of the group’s suspected activities, including previous interactions withlaw enforcement.
The case, in some ways, is a textbook example of what’shappening in the American drug trade, said Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellowat the Cato Institute and author of “The Fire Next Door: Mexico’sDrug Violence and the Danger to America,” which will be published inOctober.
“I wouldn’t find this incident unusual at all,”Carpenter said. “The Mexican cartels have connections with domestictrafficking gangs.
“Their tentacles are quite extensive in the UnitedStates.”
In the Central Florida ring, agents say, marijuana wasshipped in bulk from a trafficker in McAllen, Texas, to Panama City then picked up and brought to Central Floridaor Jacksonville for distribution.
After the marijuana was sold locally, the cash was pickedup and taken back on the same route, to Panama City and then toTexas.
Once the cash made it to Panama City in the FloridaPanhandle, a new load of marijuana was picked up for distribution, and thecycle continued.
Court documents detail the roles of each of the suspectedCentral Florida ring members. Some were organizers, some were drivers, andothers were involved with offloading and delivery.
Sources told agents each shipment of marijuana produced$800,000 to $1 million in proceeds.
The group buried the cash on various properties until itwas ready to be shipped back to Texas.
It may seem a risky way to store millions, but Carpentersaid it’s not surprising.
Unlike legal businesses, drug traffickers can’t simplydeposit their revenue into a bank account.
“You can’t just walk into a Bank of America …and deposit $80,000 in cash,” Carpenter said. “That would ring alarmbells all over the place.”
Source: Orlando Sentinel