Multi-Agency Law Enforcement Operation Tackles Gun Violence in Miami-Dade County
Operation Smoking Gun III results in federal and state arrests of 97 individuals
Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade 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, Neil DeSousa, Acting U.S. Marshal, U.S. Marshal’s Service, and Matthew Boyd, Chief, Miami Gardens Police Department, announced the results of Operation Smoking Gun III, a concerted multi-agency effort to combat the crime and violence associated with illegal firearm and drug trafficking activity in Miami-Dade County.
The United States Attorney’s Office and its federal and state law enforcement partners are committed to reducing the crime and violence associated with illegal firearm and drug trafficking. To this end, over the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office and federal and state law enforcement have cooperated in a number of joint investigations and prosecutions, collectively called Operation Smoking Gun III, targeting illegal firearms and drug trafficking, including the unlawful sale of prescription drugs. This proactive investigation used undercover agents to purchase guns and drugs from violent and repeat offenders.
Operation Smoking Gun III has yielded substantial results. Since its inception in June 2012, 97 individuals have been arrested on federal and state firearm and narcotics offenses. Federal charges have been brought against 22 individuals. Of those charged federally, 16 have been arrested and will be making their initial appearances in federal court tomorrow. Federal charges against the remaining 6 individuals remained sealed. In addition, approximately 80 individuals have been arrested separately on state narcotics and firearm violations.
Operation Smoking Gun III has resulted in the following seizures:
--248 firearms including 1 sawed off shotgun;
--342 grams crack cocaine;
--1,728 grams cocaine;
--634 grams heroin;
--2473 MDMA pills;
--2874 Oxycodone pills;
--15,208 grams of marijuana;
--5 bullet proof vests;
--576 Percocet pills;
--10 Morphine pills;
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “As a result of this long-term concerted effort, 97 dangerous individuals, the vast majority of whom are previously convicted felons, their guns and their drugs, have been removed from the streets of Miami-Dade and South Florida. Working as a team, we shared intelligence, effectively multiplied our resources, and enhanced our ability to tackle violent crime in this community. We are proud of our collaborative relationship and look forward to many more successful operations -- like this one -- aimed at making our communities safer."
Katherine Fernandez-Rundle, Miami-Dade County State Attorney, stated, “Guns plus drugs always equal violence and death. That’s why such multi-agency law enforcement efforts are important. Every illegal gun dealer and drug dealer we get off the streets of Miami Gardens means less violence for the city’s citizens. Every member of our law enforcement community is committed to that essential goal.”
ATF Special Agent in Charge Hugo J. Barrera stated, “The citizens of the City of Miami Gardens can breathe a little easier tonight. Violence should never become the order of the day. The message is clear; if you choose to use a firearm to inflict violence on the innocent people of this or any other community in South Florida, you will be dealt with swiftly. Together with this seamless integration of federal, state and local law enforcement we can ensure solid investigations, successful prosecutions and long stays in prison for these predators.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville stated, “Whenever money and drugs come together, violence will follow. Where drug trafficking is rampant, neighborhoods can become a war zone bringing havoc to its residents. The DEA is committed to working with the ATF and our local partners to remove these violators off our streets and make our communities safe and drug free.”
Matthew Boyd, Chief of the Miami Gardens Police Department, stated, “The Miami Gardens Police Department has been extremely successful in reducing crime over the last five years. This success continues to create a safer environment for our residents and is a direct result of the cooperation and partnerships at the State and Federal level as evidenced in this multi-agency operation.”
“It is due to Operations like Smoking Gun that the partnership of federal and local law enforcement agencies come together to share resources and remove dangerous criminals off of our streets,” said Neil DeSousa, Acting U.S. Marshal. “The U.S. Marshals Service remains dedicated to this intensive effort, today the City of Miami Gardens is safer because of the commitment by all of the criminal investigators and officers that led this proactive Operation over the course of the year.”
In February 2010, Operation Smoking Gun I, which targeted gang and gun crime in Broward County, resulted in federal charges against 33 defendants with firearm, narcotics, and other offenses. In addition, 63 defendants were separately charged by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office with narcotics and firearm violations.
Then, in July 2011, Operation Smoking Gun II, focusing on Palm Beach County, resulted in federal firearm and narcotics charges against 49 defendants. Of those 49 charged federally, many were felons in possession of a firearm. In addition, approximately 58 defendants were charged separately by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office with narcotics and firearm violations.
U.S. Attorney Ferrer thanked the many law enforcement agencies involved in this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)/ South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (HIDTA) operation. In particular, Ferrer thanked the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office, and the agents, detectives and police officers from ATF, DEA, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the Miami Gardens Police Department, for their concerted efforts during this long-term investigation. Ferrer also thanked the Miami-Dade Police Department, City of Miami Police Department, City of Aventura Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Hialeah Police Department, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in this matter. The federal cases resulting from Operation Smoking Gun III are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Brown. The state cases are being prosecuted by Miami-Dade County Assistant State Attorney Frank Ledee.
Operation Smoking Gun III is the result of an ongoing OCDETF joint investigation. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
The South Florida HIDTA was established in 1990. This program, made up of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, fosters intra-agency cooperation among law enforcement agencies in South Florida and involves them in developing a strategy to target the region’s drug-related threats to public safety. The South Florida HIDTA uses the funding provided by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) that sponsors a variety of law enforcement initiatives that target the region’s illicit drug threats.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Operation Sledgehammer Defendant List (PDF)
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.