News and Press Releases

MULTI-AGENCY LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATION TACKLES GANG AND GUN VIOLENCE IN BROWARD COUNTY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2010

Jeffrey H. Sloman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael J. Satz, Broward County State Attorney, Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF), Mark. R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Neil DeSousa, Acting U.S. Marshal, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Al Lamberti, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, and Franklin Adderley, Chief, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, along with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, announced today the results of Operation Smoking Gun, a concerted multi-agency effort to combat the crime and violence associated with gang activity in Broward County.

The United States Attorney’s Office and its federal and state law enforcement partners are committed to reducing gangs and gang-related violence. To this end, over the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal and state law enforcement have cooperated in a number of joint investigations and prosecutions, collectively called Operation Smoking Gun, aimed at bringing the most violent of these criminal gangs and gang members to justice. During the investigation, federal and state law enforcement officials focused on three primary areas: trafficking and use of illegal firearms, narcotics offenses (including the unlawful sale of prescription drugs), and the increase in violence resulting from identity theft operations. The proactive investigation used undercover agents to purchase guns, drugs, and stolen identity documents from violent and repeat offenders.

Operation Smoking Gun has yielded substantial results. Since its inception in February 2009, a total of 33 defendants have been charged with federal firearm, narcotics, and other offenses. Of those charged federally, many were felons in possession of a firearm. As of today, federal charges have been unsealed against 27 of these individuals; 25 of these 27 were arrested yesterday and made their initial appearances in federal court. Federal charges against the remaining five individuals remained sealed. In addition, 63 defendants have been charged separately by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office with narcotics and firearm violations.

Since February 2009, Operation Smoking Gun has resulted in the following seizures:

312 firearms, including a machine gun and 3 sawed-off shotguns;
2956 Oxycodone pills;
1616 Percocet pills
568 Endocet pills
245 Vicadin pills
185 Morphine [pills
7762 MDMA (Ecstasy) pills
more than 2.5 kilograms of powder cocaine;
more than 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine;
more than 5 kilograms of marijuana;
more than $5,000 in counterfeit U.S. currency; and
stolen personal identifying information for more than 300 identity theft victims.

U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman stated, “Despite the success of today’s operation, we know that prosecutions alone will not end gangs and the violence they breed. For this reason, the U.S. Attorney’s Office participates in crime prevention summer camps, after-school programs, and youth leadership activities through Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Public Housing Safety Initiative, Weed and Seed, and similar community-based programs. It is our hope that this concerted multi-faceted approach to combating gang violence will help steer our youth away from gangs, guns and drugs.”

Michael J. Satz, Broward County State Attorney, stated, "Cooperative efforts like these are critical and usually have very good results, as this one did. This is a great example of law enforcement working together to help keep our communities safe."

Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge of ATF, added, “ The cooperative and dedicated actions of the agencies involved in this lengthy operation have contributed to making Ft. Lauderdale a safer place for all. Each illegal firearm removed from the hands of an unlawful possessor results in saving countless lives and preventing additional crimes from being committed."

“This case exemplifies law enforcement’s success when working together,” said Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division. “The investigation took violent gang members off the streets and dismantled a poly-drug trafficking organization that not only sold street drugs like cocaine and marijuana, but was also involved in the diversion of illicit pharmaceutical drugs.”

Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, noted, "The Secret Service was proud to assist the participating members of the South Florida law enforcement community in this significant investigation. This operation serves as a warning to those who choose to violate the law that law enforcement professionals will be vigilant in their continuing fight to protect the people of South Florida.”

Neil DeSousa, Acting U.S. Marshal, U.S. Marshal’s Service, stated, “This was a well-planned operation that could not have succeeded without the cooperation of all of the state, local and federal law enforcement partners in South Florida. Each agency brought its expertise to the table and delivered. As a result, our communities are safer and more secure today.”

“Guns and gun violence continue to plague our way of life in Broward County,” Sheriff Al Lamberti said. “Operation Smoking Gun was aimed at restoring peace in our community. I’m proud of the work that the BSO Crime Lab did in processing the weapons and drugs that were seized in a timely manner. It was a coordinated effort using regional assets and resources.”

Franklin Adderley, Chief, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, added, “The Fort Lauderdale Police Department would like to thank the ATF and all agencies that participated in this lengthy operation. Since the majority of the operation was conducted within our city, it has led to Fort Lauderdale becoming a safer place for all citizens and visitors. The removal of these violent offenders and their firearms from the community will undoubtedly result in a further reduction in violent crime. This operation is yet another example of the significant results that come from multiple agencies working as one to enhance the quality of life and safety for all.”

U.S. Attorney Sloman thanked the many law enforcement agencies involved in this long-term OCDETF operation. In particular, Sloman thanked the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, and the agents and detectives from ATF, DEA, U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, for their concerted efforts during this year-long investigation. Sloman also thanked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Miami-Dade Police Department for their assistance in this matter.

An Indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Attachments:
List of Operation Smoking Gun federal defendants attached (PDF)

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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