Tampa Bay Agencies Combine Forces To Dismantle Major Heroin Trafficking Ring
Several years ago, the Tampa Police Department began an intensive effort to target local gangs believed to be involved in heroin trafficking. By 2015, the Department had combined forces with the FBI’s Tampa Field Office on the Bureau’s Tampa Bay Safe Streets Task Force to expand the investigation.
The collaboration sought to look beyond small-time street dealers and develop a larger picture of the persons actually responsible for the influx of drugs.
After a year-and-a-half of the investigation, the case had developed into an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) operation. The mission of OCDETF is to “identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations…”
In total, 16 persons were charged in March 2017 for their part in a large heroin trafficking conspiracy. Since that time, all sixteen have pled guilty, including the ringleader, Felix Mejia Lagunas.
From his home in California, Lagunas oversaw heroin importation from Mexico into the U.S., which ultimately end up in the Tampa Bay area. In December of last year, Lagunas was given a 27-year sentence in federal prison.
At the time of this writing, all but one of Lagunas cohorts had also been sentenced to time in federal prison, and the entire drug trafficking operation has been dismantled
During the investigation, 6.5 kilos of heroin was seized, as well as nine firearms and $600,000 in drug profits.
In a news release, Special Agent in Charge Eric W. Sporre of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office was quoted as the following:
“By combining federal, state and local resources, a major heroin trafficking ring was dismantled; removing large quantities of a dangerous drug off the streets.”
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said:
“The hard work of our partners at the federal, state and local level helped to bring these violent offenders to justice and get them off our streets.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology