Skip to main content
Press Release

Fort Myers Drug Trafficking Organization Leader Sentenced To Life In Prison For Killing An FBI Informant And Conspiracy To Distribute Cocaine

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington has sentenced Robert Lee Ward (55, Fort Myers) to life in federal prison for killing an FBI informant and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. A jury found Ward guilty of conspiracy to distribute cocaine on February 18, 2022. Another jury found Ward guilty of killing an FBI informant on September 29, 2023.

According to the evidence and testimony presented during the trials, Ward was the leader of a drug trafficking organization in Fort Myers that distributed cocaine in Fort Myers and other locations for over a decade until his arrest in 2018. Ward and his co-conspirators routinely purchased kilograms of cocaine from Ward’s supplier in Miami and distributed the cocaine in Fort Myers and Panama City.

Federal investigators used confidential informants to make multiple purchases of cocaine from Ward’s co-conspirators. A confidential informant that purchased cocaine from Ward was relocated by investigators after they learned of a threat against the informant’s life. 

In 2012, the FBI obtained the assistance of Kristopher Smith, a member of Ward’s organization, who agreed to cooperate in the investigation against Ward. After learning about Smith’s cooperation with investigators, Ward solicited James Broomfield to kill Smith. Broomfield agreed to kill Smith for $30,000. Ward provided Broomfield with a loaded firearm and told him where to locate Smith.  

On January 7, 2013, Broomfield and another individual followed Smith and his girlfriend as they drove to their son’s school. Smith remained in the car while his girlfriend entered the school. Broomfield and his accomplice parked their vehicle behind the informant’s car. Broomfield ran up to the car and shot Smith several times, killing him.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Myers Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Panama City Police Department, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tampa Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Sinacore and Candace Rich.

This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identities, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at 


Updated March 8, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime